Lost in the Long March: A Novel (Hardcover)
China, 1934: A naive orphan and shy gunsmith, Ping, has fallen in love with Yong, who is a sophisticated veteran, a skilled marksman, and a true believer in Marxist ideology. Winning her affections will take an ideological battle—something he does not understand. To make matters worse, Yong has shown interest in Ping’s best friend, Luo. On the eve of a great Communist defeat, Ping sabotages Luo’s rifle, causing the bullet to backfire into his friend’s head. The army begins its year-long retreat, known as The Long March, and Yong turns to Ping for comfort and companionship. Ping deeply regrets killing his friend, and as his relationship with Yong blossoms, he is saddened that it will always be colored by guilt.
Yong soon becomes pregnant. She hates the way the baby inside is changing her, both physically and emotionally. The Red Army can’t retreat with a crying infant, so they need to find someone close to take the baby in. Ping and Yong leave their son with a woman, promising to return once the war is won. When World War II breaks out and Japanese soldiers arrive, their 12-year-old son decides to enlist in the Japanese army to find his parents, though he quickly begins to fear for his life . . .
Deeply moving and brilliantly written, Michael X. Wang's Lost in the Long March is an exploration of how the history of a country is always its people, though their stories are often the first to be lost.
“Wang’s thoughtful and richly detailed debut novel . . . follows several characters swept up in Mao Zedong’s Communist uprising in the 1930s . . . Wang does a great job showing how the bit players in this large-scale historical drama come to grips with the turbulent period and struggle to survive. Thanks to the colorful characters, Wang’s saga is consistently engaging.”
— Publishers Weekly
“This book is an awesome achievement. Michael X. Wang has covered nearly half a century of Chinese history and managed to express not only what was achieved, but also what was lost . . . Lost in the Long March, through remade countries and vaporized donkeys, in a magisterially spare way, offers precious insight into the mind of a woman, on battlefields and remote mountains, as she wonders whether she should be a mother or a Marxist. The natal cliche has been turned inside out and elevated into high artistic, political interiority—in other words, the thing that comes after the history books.”
— Full Stop Magazine
“Love, loss, and sacrifice are at the center of Michael X. Wang’s historical novel . . . Lost in the Long March is a story about lingering trauma and the price that’s paid when ideology trumps love.”
— Foreword Reviews
“This epic novel is set during the Long March in 1930s China. Wang, who won the 2021 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection for his debut short story collection, translates his story crafting skills throughout this novel with great success.”
“Wang’s powerful storytelling . . . makes for a promising debut.”
— Asian Review of Books