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.
“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
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“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
“A sweeping political saga spanning East and West. McCrea’s confident and lucid prose gives us both the personal and the political. Mesmerising.”
Xiaolu Guo, author of A Lover’s Discourse
"Ambitious ... McCrea writes insightfully about mother-daughter dynamics, the power of theater, and women’s roles in revolutionary movements."
“A stirring, perceptive exploration of radical politics … a sweeping portrait of three women shaped by fanaticism, dysfunctional families, intra-group sexism and politics-as-performance … This excellent novel, populated by maddening, memorable characters, offers a timeless reminder of extremism's perils.”
Kevin Canfield, Minneapolis Star Tribune