The Metaphor Detox Centre
A contemporary, speculative story which draws upon the history of the Great Chinese Famine and Cultural Revolution, The Metaphor Detox Centre is the new novel by one of China’s boldest young writers. As in her previous works Northern Girls and Death Fugue, Sheng Keyi employs elements of allegory and dystopia to explore the complex past, present and future of her native China.
Yao Minzhu is a young female journalist, with an active imagination and a particular interest in imagery and metaphor. This stems from the death of her father, who was struck by a bullet and killed in the exact same moment as Minzhu was born. Minzhu’s pursuit of the truth as a journalist, and the frequent use of creative imagery and language in her work, soon get her into trouble: the government believes she is suffering from a new disease, known as metaphor. She is admitted to The Metaphor Detox Centre, where she is forced to take medication and required to copy and recite ideological works of previous national leaders.
The patients at The Metaphor Detox Centre, among them many lawyers and journalists, are used as guinea pigs in trials to try and find a way to suppress the imagination. After Minzhu dies of a suspected heart attack, her spirit, now devoid of memories, wanders to nearby Gospel Town, where a witch named Gu gives her an eye drop that allows her to see and hear all of Gospel Town’s past and present. All the town’s spirits, living things, animals and plants are eager to share their experiences with her…