Skip to main content

#goodchinesereads ~ He Jiahong

Black Holes by He Jiahong, translated by Emily Jones

Flash Reviews

Katie Hunt, 18/8/17

I read this excerpt without first looking at the blurb about the author. It was only after I noticed
that He Jiahong is described as the “John Grisham” of China. And even though I only read the
first chapter of what is much longer novel, I think the label fits -- and not at all in a bad way.
With sparse yet pacy prose, He, and his translator Emily Jones, introduce two intriguing,
complex characters and set up the beginnings of tantalizing mystery involving China’s shady
stock dealing industry. Hong Jun is a talented and idiosyncratic lawyer -- he made me think of
the frazzled yet dedicated attorney in the movie “Spotlight” and Song Jia is his spunky and
ambitious secretary. The case Hong takes on centers on a young man arrested for fraud after
losing money on the stock market -- an area ripe for thriller treatment. But equally, I found
myself wanting to know how the other plotline plays out -- will Miss Song overcome her boss’s
resistance and follow in his footsteps to become a lawyer herself? I particularly liked the final
detail in the chapter -- as Song walks to the restroom she flips a sign on the door from
“Gentlemen’ to ‘Ladies’ -- it gives the impression she’s a woman about to succeed in a man’s
world. The only fault I could find? It’s a minor one. The translator appears to mix British and
American English -- Miss Song exclaims “bloody hell,” but uses a restroom.