RAS Book Club

RAS Library

Bi Feiyu: Massage

Discussion Leader: Dagmar Borchard

This stunning portrayal of disability of blind working in massage parlor and the strength of human character is a rare glimpse into a small yet very real component of Chinese society, from one of China’s most acclaimed contemporary authors. 

Wang Daifu is blind and works as a practitioner of tuina, a traditional form of pressure-point massage, in the burgeoning metropolis of Shenzhen. His is a uniquely coveted skill, yet it is one of the few options open to the visually impaired in China. When he loses his life savings on the stock market he returns to his provincial hometown, fiancée in tow, to work for an old classmate. But the transition is not easy as Wang struggles to deal with his own career frustration, his brother’s gambling troubles, and the pressures of pleasing his wife-to-be.
His fellow workers in the massage parlor all have their own moving stories: Duhong is a former pianist whose striking beauty goes undetected by her blind colleagues; strong-headed Jin Yan travels cross-country in pursuit of a man she has never met; and Xiao Kong hides her relationship with Wang Daifu from her parents. Together these fiercely independent people are united by the challenges of their shared disability of blindness. Amid growing uncertainty, this community of diverse individuals supports one another unfailingly as they navigate their world of darkness.

‘Bi Feiyu’s storytelling gifts are considerable.’ Washington Post

Dagmar Borchard is resident in China since 2011. M.A. in sinology, lawyer, journalist, she writes a column for a German magazine about China and loves to take photos in Shanghai’s old lanes and backyards.

Please note that this is a book discussion; the author will not be present.

RSVP: bookevents@royalasiaticsociety.org.cn