Coral and her slacker boyfriend, Red, live on the ground floor of a tower block in the megalopolis that is twenty-first-century Beijing. Red thinks jobs are for idiots and just wants to play Frisbee; Coral makes ends meet by working in a video rental shop. They eat fast food, try to ignore the claustrophobia of having twenty-five storeys above them, and lose themselves in sex. But then, one day, someone sends Coral a dried eel through the post. As the smell of the sea floods her small flat, she is transported back to the fishing village where she grew up - the Village of Stone she has tried so hard to forget. This haunting, beautiful novel tells the story of one little girl's struggle to build a life for herself against all odds. At the same time it is an incisive portrait of China's new urban youth, who have hidden behind their modern lifestyle all the poverty and cruelty of their past.
"Exquisitely written and intricately contructed"
"A refreshing departure from much of the recent Chinese fiction to reach these shores. The language has the pared-down simplicity of a fable; the effect is a bit like that of a Haruki Murakami novel" Times Literary Supplement "Open this book and you will see a Chinese girl stepping towards you out of China's past and into its present, with all her dreams and striving" -- Xinran "Exquisitely written and intricately contructed" Independent "Reading it is rather like finding yourself in a dream: "once upon a time..." People are going to like this book very much... What could have been a misery of a story has the mysterious charm of a fairy tale or a legend" -- Doris Lessing