Against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution and Europe’s sexual revolution, the fates of two families in London and Beijing become unexpectedly intertwined, in this dazzling new novel from the author of Mrs Engels.
Revolution is a Family Affair.
In London, sisters Iris and Eva, members of a radical performance collective, plan an attack on the West End theater where their mother is playing the title role in Miss Julie. Meanwhile in Beijing, Jiang Qing, Chairman Mao’s wife, rehearses a gala performance of her model ballet, The Red Detachment of Women, which she will use in order to attack her enemies in the Party.
As the preparations for these two astonishing performances unfold, Iris, Eva, and Jiang Qing are transformed into unforgettable protagonists in a single epic drama. The three ‘sisters’, although fighting very different personal battles, find themselves bound together by the passions of love, by the obsessions of power, and by the forces of history.
Exquisitely observed, relevant, and wise, The Sisters Mao shows us that the political is always personal.
“Written with McCrea’s trademark confidence and virtuosity, this is a sumptuous, winning book. Its characters are not so much drawn from life (Imelda Marcos makes an entrance) as strange revenants from a turbulent dream. Its high intelligence throws light everywhere, and suggestive shade.”
—Sebastian Barry, author of A Thousand Moons
“A sweeping political saga spanning East and West. McCrea’s confident and lucid prose gives us both the personal and the political. Mesmerizing.”
—Xiaolu Guo, author of A Lover’s Discourse
“The tremors of Gavin McCrea’s prose thrillingly record what happens as a world spins off its axis, shattering public and private lives. This electrifying fiction confirms McCrea’s status among the leading novelists of his brilliant generation.”
—Frank McGuinness, author of Someone Who'll Watch Over Me
“The Sisters Mao is a spectacular novel, utterly enthralling and insightful; every voice is penetrating, dazzling. In spite of the setting, it is full of relevance for these times; it manages to be both historically authentic and thrillingly contemporary. Gavin is a writer of extraordinary talent, and I cannot think of a kind of reader who I would not recommend this novel to.”
—Sara Baume, author of Spill Simmer Falter Wither
“Gavin McCrea is a wonderful writer: bold, innovative, and fiercely intelligent, and these qualities shine from this magnificent novel. I was enthralled from the first sentence to the last.”
—Donal Ryan author of Strange Flowers
Praise for Mrs Engels:
“An unusual, wholly convincing voice.”
—Joyce Carol Oates
“[B]rought to life with exuberant force by the first-time author Gavin McCrea.”
—Carmela Ciuraru, New York Times
—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Incisive… outlines a number of radical dislocations—in geography, nationality, class, and even love.”
“Impressive… A memorable portrait of a woman looking for a cause of her own, distinct from the one made famous by her husband.”
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“A fine symphony.”
“Outstanding, intelligent, original.”
“Ambitious and imaginative.”
—The Times “Book of the Month”
—The Irish Times