Winner of The Guardian Not The Booker Prize 2017 Nominated to The Edgars 2018 Awards An astonishing and unique novel inspired by the author's own story Vivian is a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist who often escapes her busy life in London through adventure and travel. Johnny is a 15-year-old Irish teenager, living a neglected life on the margins of society. On a bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, their paths collide during a horrifying act of violence. In the aftermath, each is forced to confront the chain of events that led to the attack. Inspired by true events, this is a story of the dark chapters and chance encounters that can irrevocably determine the shape of our lives.
Taiwanese-American Vivian Tan, the heroine of Li's gripping debut, has moved to London to work as a film producer. While attending a conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, she embarks on a hike one afternoon in the city's Glen Forest Park. On a trail, Vivian encounters a teenage boy, Johnny Sweeney, who was born into poverty and squalor and grew up watching his father physically abuse his mother. At first, Johnny is friendly, but he later attacks Vivian, beating and raping her. After the assault, a distraught Vivian calls a friend, who contacts the local police, initiating a dehumanizing process that grinds on unremittingly right through to Johnny's trial. Back in London, suffering from PTSD and agoraphobia, Vivian takes leave from her job. Meanwhile, Johnny fails to take responsibility for his crime. The narration alternates between Vivian's and Johnny's points of view, though at times whose story is being told is unclear. Still, Li does a fine job exploring how one incident can change the course of a life in this astute psychological study.)\n