Delaney, Robert F. “The Wounded Muse”, Mosaic Press, 2018.
When Qiang returns to his homeland of China from Silicon Valley, he finds Beijing amidst a chaotic transformation as the city prepares to host the 2008 Olympic Games. Entire neighborhoods are being knocked down to make way for new structures that are more in line with the government’s vision of a modern China. What is going on inspires Qiang to film a documentary about the loss of affordable housing and quite naturally security officials become quite interested in what he is doing draws the attention of public security officials. He is suddenly arrested by local police and his friend Jake, an American journalist tries to figure out how to end the detention.
There are two other men who are caught up with what is going on. Teen Dawei meets middle aged Zhihong in Macau, where both men pursue their dreams of being in the movie industry. The four come together when police hold Qiang for the threat they suspect that his documentary presents. Jake is also pulled into an argument between Dawei and Zhihong, who are also now in Beijing, over a movie script. All four men must decide what battle is ultimately worth the fight.
We move back and forth in time. Beginning in 2006, the plot looks at the near and distant past and gives us the back stories of Jake, Qiang, Dawei and Zhihong. The action really picks up at the end, between April 19-24, 2007, before Qiang’s potential release. The plot is quite complicated and we see how each character has planned his life. The story is filled with wonderful descriptions of Beijing as well as what goes on in the heart of our four characters, all of whom are gay men. However, this is not a gay novel—it just so happens that the characters are gay. The various threads are not always easy to follow but that makes this a challenging and exciting read. This is a political thriller as well as something of a love story and is the author’s first novel. The story is based on real events.