Notes of a Crocodile

Narrated by: Jo Mei
Length: 8 hrs and 6 mins
Categories: LGBT, Literature & Fiction
3.7 out of 5 stars (75 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Editors' Choice

The English-language premiere of Qiu Miaojin's coming-of-age novel about queer teenagers in Taiwan, a cult classic in China and winner of the 1995 China Times Literature Award.

An NYRB Classics Original

Set in the post-martial-law era of late-1980s Taipei, Notes of a Crocodile is a coming-of-age story of queer misfits discovering love, friendship, and artistic affinity while hardly studying at Taiwan's most prestigious university. Told through the eyes of an anonymous lesbian narrator nicknamed Lazi, this cult classic is a postmodern pastiche of diaries, vignettes, mash notes, aphorisms, exegesis, and satire by an incisive prose stylist and major countercultural figure.

Afflicted by her fatalistic attraction to Shui Ling, an older woman, Lazi turns for support to a circle of friends that includes a rich kid turned criminal and his troubled, self-destructive gay lover, as well as a bored, mischievous overachiever and her alluring slacker artist girlfriend. Illustrating a process of liberation from the strictures of gender through radical self-inquiry, Notes of a Crocodile is a poignant masterpiece of social defiance by a singular voice in contemporary Chinese literature.

©1994 Qiu Miaojin (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Heartbreak Like a Thousand Cuts

Author Xiu Miaojin was the butch lesbian Sylvia Plath of Taiwan. By that, I mean both a martyred poet by her own hand— and someone that readers saw their own life reflected by, a million times.

The heroine of Qiu's roman a clef is “Lazi," which has become the slang-nickname for “gay girl” all over China and Southeast Asia.

The book was translated to English by Bonnie Huie. Jo Mei is a terrific newer VO— she has that 21st century sound, and a deviation from everything people think they know about Chinese heroines. Playful, devastating, and a heartbreak like a thousand cuts.

39 people found this helpful

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Beautiful homosexual exposé set in Taiwan

The narrator's mellifluous voice carries you through the trial and tribulations of perusing homosexual relationships in Taiwan in the late 1980s, early 1990s. A magnificent work in translation that articulates the emotional rollercoaster of the various characters. A insightful reminder that love, pain and compassion transcend culture, language and sexual orientation uniting people in shared humanity.

32 people found this helpful

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Pleasant Surprise

Because this is a book about LGBTQ college students in late '80s Taiwan, a world I know literally nothing about, I did struggle to understand some of the nuances, but overall I enjoyed this peek into a different world. It's not very long but it's easy to pick up and put down due to the format of lots of short chapters, in the form of letters and vignettes. I might have enjoyed it more if I'd made time to do longer stretches of listening. But the translation and the narrator make it very easy to get through. While in some ways the shame most of the characters express about their sexuality feels a bit dated to a 21st century urban dwelling American, on the other hand, the conversations characters have abut gender fluidity or refusal to be defined by one specific gender/sexuality, feel really modern. I think a lot of people will relate to the characters' struggle and their frequent sense of despair. That despair is all the more poignant when you realize that the author killed herself at age 26.

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Better with context

I wasn't enjoying the story much until I did a bit of research on the author and the context in which this book was written. I didn't love the narrator, but it's an interesting (if depressing) book.

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metaphorical

the best I expected was interesting and it barely met that mark. way too metaphorical for me and chock full of teenage and young adult angst. I'm not sure how much is culture not translating, I don't think much but who knows.

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my opinion

this is actually a pretty good book. it does start out slowly, but if you hang in there it will pick up. I enjoyed the way the author grew the characters from the beginning to almost mature adults with what they had learned by the time the book was done