This “vivid, fascinating, and haunting look at today’s China” (Library Journal, starred review) and highly anticipated sequel to the “darkly beautiful, heart-wrenching” (Booklist) Whispering Shadows features a brooding German-American expat who is struggling to begin a new life—only to find himself embroiled in an investigation that could have dangerous environmental and personal consequences.
Paul Leibovitz is determined to turn over a new leaf in Hong Kong and find peace after the death of his son. He believes that his love for Christine Wu will bring him the joy he desperately needs—but things change when Christine gets an unexpected letter from Da Long, the brother she hasn’t seen in forty years, urging her to visit him in his remote village outside of Shanghai.
Paul is compelled to travel with her, knowing full well that the mainland, with all of its menacing secrets, terrifies her. After an awkward reunion with her brother, Christine leaves immediately but Paul decides to stay. He’s a journalist at heart, after all, and there are questions begging for answers, such as why are Da Long’s wife, other local women, and even some pets exhibiting the same mysterious symptoms?
With a bit of investigating, Paul discovers that a powerful chemical conglomerate has been polluting a nearby lake, and the Chinese government has done nothing to stop it. Da Long’s children demand justice and want to sue, even though a suit would put their lives at risk. Will anyone take on their case or will intimidation and corruption suppress even the most outspoken citizens? Can Paul walk away, or will he pull the woman he loves reluctantly back into a world she escaped from decades ago?
Suspenseful and rife with the page-turning storytelling that has come to define Sendker’s work, Language of Solitude is a brilliant and timely thriller that offers a penetrating look into contemporary China.
Set in Hong Kong, Sendker's thoughtful, politically astute sequel to 2015's Whispering Shadows finds grieving expatriate Paul Leibovitz's tentative new happiness with Christine Wu imperiled after Christine receives a letter from her long-lost brother, Da Long. His wife, Min Fang, is a victim of a recent cluster of mysterious ailments, which Paul realizes are caused by a chemical conglomerate polluting local water. Min Fang can't be healed, but more will suffer if the corporation is not held accountable. Da Long and his two children, elegant musician Yin-Yin and anxious Communist Party member Xiao Hu, have misgivings about Paul's call to action. Indeed, the eyes of the state track Paul and a newly emboldened Yin-Yin's probing, and she must decide whether justice is worth risking what's left of the shattered family's safety. Sendker draws on broad knowledge of Chinese politics and mores to craft scenes both comic and tragic, illuminating how ordinary people struggle to navigate opaque, omniscient systems of power. Despite a too-neat resolution, this novel offers a rich portrait of compromise and courage under a repressive state.