Lotus. Zhang, Lijia (Author) Jan 2017. 368 p. Holt, hardcover, $27. (9781627795661).
To everyone in her village, Lotus is a success: she wears glamorous clothes, has a lucrative job at a
restaurant in Shenzhen, and sends all her earnings home to ensure her brother, Shadan, can attend
university. What Lotus can’t bear to reveal is that she’s actually a ji, a working girl at the Moonflower
Massage Parlor. When Lotus is arrested, she calls the first person who comes to mind: Bing, a quiet
photographer whose artistic interest in prostitution has lead him to form a protective bond with some of the
girls in the neighborhood. Zhang’s debut novel follows Lotus and Bing’s relationship as it unfolds, first as
a friendship, then, slowly, as something more. Though the relationship is central to the novel, the story
belongs fully to Lotus. With expert pacing and description, Zhang vividly draws Lotus’ present and past,
weaving together time lines, characters, and subplots that eventually reveal Lotus to be far more than the
sweet, reserved girl she appears to be. At once immersive and delicate, Zhang’s writing takes Lotus to
unexpected places as she searches for—and perhaps finds—what true freedom means.
— Amanda Winterroth