White Horse

White Horse
Yan Ge



Three women struggle against the forces of society, family, and passion in a small Druze village in the south of Syria as the country itself struggles against the forces of the Ottoman Empire, the French Empire, and then the Baath.

The village of Sarmada is an enchanting pace, but the people who live there don’t much notice it. To them, the transmigrating souls, potions, soothsayers, and animals in the rocky wasteland are all part of the landscape. They live in a world of possibility, but that openness only goes so far. Druze women are expected to marry a Druze man, settle down, and have children, and there’s no forgiving those who step out of line. And yet some brave souls still do. Some women risk their lives to follow their hearts and Sarmada is their story.

Translated from the Arabic by Adam Talib

Young Adult | ISBN: 9781908446220 | eBook

Yan Ge

Yan Ge was born in Sichuan in the People’s Republic of China. She recently completed a PhD in comparative literature at Sichuan University and is the chairperson of the China Young Writer Association. Her early work focused on the wonders, gods and ghosts of Chinese myth and made her especially popular with teenagers. The novel May Queen (2008) saw her break through as a critically-acclaimed author. She now writes realist fiction, strongly Sichuan-based, focussing with warmth, humour and razor-sharp insights on squabbling families and small-town life. People’s Literature magazine recently chose her as one of China’s twenty future literary masters, and in 2012 she was chosen as Best New Writer by the prestigious Chinese Literature Media Prize.

Full  White Horse review in Dunia magazine >


‘Contemporary and hard-hitting, You're Not Proper is the story of two girls with one religion and two very different lifestyles. It offers powerful insight into young people's lives and the challenges they face around identity and cultural heritage. High on impact and highly engaging, it truly is a story of our age’
Jake Hope, critic, librarian and coordinator of the Lancashire Children’s Book of the Year Award>
'Short, but sweet (and bitter at times too), White Horse is a great little read, one you can knock off very quickly. Having read it on my Kindle, I’m not completely sure of the page count, but I’d guess that it would run to about fifty pages in a print version. It features a nice smooth translation by Harman, one which captures the voice of a child nicely while also avoiding the exoticism of some Chinese translations, where simple greetings are translated literally, thus sounding archaic.'
Tony Malone, Tony's Reading List - full review >
'Vivid, White Horse mesmerizes from page one as events unfold through the unassuming lenses of a child's mind. In recounting how young Yun Yun is trying to make sense of real life experiences in an adult world.

Author Yan Ge weaves a fascinating tale of receptive hearts, rebellious spirits and hidden secrets infused with cultural values in a small close-knit Chinese community.’
Lema Abeng-Nsah, DUNIA Magazine publisher & Editorial Director
‘This is a great introduction for English-reading audiences to the work of one of China’s most interesting and accessible new writers. If you are looking for proof that Chinese children and teenagers have the same anxieties, desires and self-centred impulses as those elsewhere, then read this short novella by the enormously impressive Yan Ge, translated adeptly by Nicky Harman. We loved the way it was written – it didn’t have that certain ‘translated Chinese’ feel that a lot of family-saga type stories seem to have. The characterisation is handled well, and while some of the traits of the family members may not always immediately be familiar, they are completely plausible, and readers are immersed in the child narrator’s world within the first couple of pages.

The central character Yun Yun is both hugely sympathetic, yet equally annoying and selfish in an absolutely believable way. In a particularly memorable and humorous scene her father is baring his soul to her and she opportunistically asks for him to buy her an expensive fountain pen. The white horse of the title adds a fleeting touch of magical realism that manages to avoid cliché and highlights the narrative perspective.’
Frances Weightman and Sarah Dodd, co-organisers of Writing Chinese, University of Leeds

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