UFO in Her Eyes by Xiaolu Guo (2009)

UFO In Her Eyes cover
It probably only just meets the length requirement for a novel, but this slim, elegantly composed volume about the modernisation of a rural Chinese village has lingered with me, unpacking in my mind over time. I reviewed it a couple of years ago:

There are moments of bureaucratic absurdity, and moments when the remote fumbles of government have all too real consequences. The society presented is one in which “peasant” is a political designation, where by habit much is censored, or simply not reported. (“Disaster belongs to the West” [154], Chang cynically notes, in another unguarded moment.) If this sounds like a lot of ground to cover in a slim book (it is only a shade over 200 pages) then, well, it is. Guo is not a writer who paints her panoramas with detail; rather, she suggests much with a few strokes of the pen, and provokes much in the reader. The bulk of UFO in Her Eyes has a documentary coolness and sweep, which is occasionally counterpointed by vivid close-ups. Much that is troubling hides behind the carefully correct official answers, through reference to the past or gesture to the future; along with just enough sweetness to make eating the bitterness bearable, even as the first smog clouds the sky above Silver Hill.

Please email me with your top ten science fiction novels by women from the last ten years (2001-2010). All votes must be received by 23.59 on Sunday 5 December. Your own definition of science fiction applies.

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