The Message by Mai Jia
A dazzling literary thriller set in Japan-occupied China from the most translated Chinese novelist of our time.
It is the height of the Second World War, and Japan rules over China. In the famously beautiful city of Hangzhou, a puppet government propped up by the Japanese is waging an underground war against the Communist resistance.
Late one night, under cover of darkness, three men and two women are escorted to an isolated mansion on the shores of West Lake. All five are intelligence officers, employed as codebreakers by the regime. But the secret police are certain that one of them is a communist spy. None of them is leaving until the traitor is unmasked.
It should be a straightforward case of sifting truth from lies. But as each codebreaker spins a story that proves their innocence, events are framed and re-framed, and what really happened is called into question again and again.
Part historical spy thriller, part playful meta-fiction, The Message is a masterclass in storytelling from a Chinese literary sensation.