The Sisters Mao
A Sunday Independent Book of the Year
Against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution and Europe’s sexual revolution, the fates of two families in London and Beijing become unexpectedly intertwined, in this dazzling new novel from the author of Mrs Engels.
In London, sisters Iris and Eva plan an attack on the West End theatre where their mother is playing the title role in Miss Julie; in Beijing, Jiang Qing, Chairman Mao’s wife, rehearses a gala performance of her model ballet, which she will use to attack her enemies in the Party.
As the preparations for these two performances unfold, these three ‘sisters’ find themselves bound together by the passions of love, by the obsessions of power, and by the forces of history.
Exquisitely observed, relevant, and wise, The Sisters Mao shows us that the political is always personal.
'McCrea's portrait of Jiang Qing is a masterpiece of characterisation: at once monstrous and pitiable. The Sisters Mao is dazzlingly clever and original.' -- Antonia Senior * The Times * 'The work of a master storyteller.' -- Joseph O'Connor 'A capacious work of social realism ... dazzlingly ambitious yet modestly human.' -- Lara Feigel * The Guardian * 'A study of political madness ... modifying the old cliche that the personal is political, the message here is a reminder that the political is always personal.' -- Phil Baker * The Sunday Times * 'It is impeccably researched and he interweaves the personal and the political to great effect.' -- Lucy Popescu * Financial Times * 'Manages to combine vast research with lightness of touch and superb insights.' -- Caitriona Lally * Sunday Independent * 'McCrea's observations are a joy ... this is a novel worth taking time over, for readers anywhere on the political spectrum.' -- Christopher Harding * The Telegraph * 'Written with McCrea's trademark confidence and virtuosity, this is a sumptuous, winning book. Its characters are not so much drawn from life (Imelda Marcos makes an entrance) as strange revenants from a turbulent dream. Its high intelligence throws light everywhere, and suggestive shade.' -- Sebastian Barry 'McCrea has conducted exceptionally deep research to conjure up nuanced, authentic portrayals of the worlds of the book - but the text carries his knowledge lightly, supporting rather than dominating the story. The Sisters Mao is the best sort of historical fiction; one that illuminates the contemporary moment with great insight. Profoundly brilliant, it will no doubt be a huge contender on the literary awards circuit, but also one that is pushed feverishly from reader to reader with excitement.' -- Helen Cullen * The Irish Times * 'The tremors of Gavin McCrea's prose thrillingly record what happens as a world spins off its axis, shattering public and private lives. This electrifying fiction confirms McCrea's status among the leading novelists of his brilliant generation.' -- Frank McGuinness, author of Someone Who'll Watch Over Me 'The Sisters Mao is a spectacular novel, utterly enthralling and insightful; every voice is penetrating, dazzling. In spite of the setting, it is full of relevance for these times; it manages to be both historically authentic and thrillingly contemporary. Gavin is a writer of extraordinary talent, and I cannot think of a kind of reader who I would not recommend this novel to.' -- Sara Baume, author of Spill Simmer Falter Wither 'Gavin McCrea is a wonderful writer: bold, innovative, and fiercely intelligent, and these qualities shine from this magnificent novel. I was enthralled from the first sentence to the last.' -- Donal Ryan, author of Strange Flowers 'A sweeping political saga spanning East and West. McCrea's confident and lucid prose gives us both the personal and the political. Mesmerising.' -- Xiaolu Guo, author of A Lover's Discourse 'Dynamic.' -- Sebastian Barry * The Irish Times * 'The writing has an engrossing flow of energy, a vigour, and a flair which have the audacity of invention ... Given its immensity and arguments the novel could invite comparison with some of the great Russian writers.' -- Mary Leland * Irish Examiner * 'Major recommendation ... The incredible Gavin McCrea, beloved author of Mrs Engels, publishes his second novel, The Sisters Mao ... It's profoundly brilliant!' -- Helen Cullen 'A new novel that's so powerful I think it's going straight onto my shelf of favourite books. It's a moving, thrilling, and thoughtful story that will captivate you.' -- Eric Karl Anderson * Lonesome Reader * 'Ideas flow ceaselessly and impact in unexpected ways in Gavin McCrea's compendious novel.' -- Neil Hegarty * The Irish Times * 'Ambitious ... McCrea writes insightfully about mother-daughter dynamics, the power of theatre, and women's roles in revolutionary movements.' * Publishers Weekly * 'A stirring, perceptive exploration of radical politics ... a sweeping portrait of three women shaped by fanaticism, dysfunctional families, intra-group sexism, and politics-as-performance ... This excellent novel, populated by maddening, memorable characters, offers a timeless reminder of extremism's perils.' -- Kevin Canfield * Minneapolis Star Tribune *
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