Blog Tour: Two Lives by A Yi

Two Lives: Tales of Life, Love & Crime
by A Yi, Alex Woodend (Translation)

Publication date: March 26th 2020
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Pages: 288

It’s my stop on the “Two Lives” blog tour! Flame Tree Press have provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and a big thank you goes to Anne Cater for the invite. If you’d like to learn more about this book, check out the other blogs on the tour, see what people have to say on Goodreads and head over to the publisher’s website.


Seven stories, seven whispers into the ears of life: A Yi’s unexpected twists of crime burst from the everyday, with glimpses of romance distorted by the weaknesses of human motive. A Yi employs his forensic skills to offer a series of portraits of modern life, both uniquely Chinese, and universal in their themes. His years as a police officer serve him well as he teases the truth from simple observation, now brought into the English language in a masterful translation by Alex Woodend. The stories include Two Lives, Attic, Spring, Bach, Predator. The first in the new Flame Tree Press series, Stories from China.

Source: Goodreads


I’ve been reading quite a lot of short stories recently, so jumped at the changes to read this new collection of short stories from China, written by A Yi.

This a collection of seven dark stories on the theme of life, love and crime.

I’ve learned over time that short stories are best enjoyed one at a time, rather than binged all in one go, and “Two Lives” is a perfect example of why this is necessary. These are all pretty heavy reads and there’s a lot to take in after each one so some time for reflection is necessary between them. I think reading them all in one go would just be a little too depressing for me! That’s not to say I didn’t like them though, there are several stories in this collection that have stuck with me and I’ve been thinking about since reading them.

Of course, as is only natural in a collection, I liked some of these stories more than others. I was most engaged in the two middle stories, ‘Bach’ and ‘Spring’. In ‘Bach’, a man named Ba Like goes missing after telling his wife and mother he’s going for a walk in the mountains, prompting a community wide search. In ‘Spring’, a women’s body has been found in the river and this story explores the events leading up to this mysterious discovery.

There’s quite a lot of gore, profanity and violence in these pages, so it’s fair to say that this isn’t going to be for everyone, and I probably wouldn’t recommend reading them alone at home in the dark! But in general, this was a really interesting collection which I’m glad I was given the opportunity to read.

I’ve not read a lot, if any Chinese literature before this, but I’d definitely like to read some more in the future.

Overall rating: “Two Lives” is an original collection of Chinese short stories for open-minded readers. It’s dark, twisted and a little odd, so I’d recommend taking these stories slowly rather than all in one go.

Don’t forget to check out the reviews of other blogs on the tour and if you like what you’ve read about it, support the author by picking up a copy on Kindle or Paperback through Amazon UK or your local bookshop.

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