ANC045: The Period of Warring States by Kassy Lee
What happens after a national crisis? / Nothing really, smog just / caresses the city. Leftover women, / growing numb as we suck on / a persimmon’s orange flesh.
Recording the political maneuvering and martial strategies leading to the unification of China, the Zhan Guo Ce documents the growing pains of a people coming together. As diplomacy and bloodshed consolidated minor kingdoms some twenty-five hundred years ago, feudalism slowly gave way to the centralized bureaucracy ultimately leading to China's prominence. Within the book's pages, alliances form and collapse, intense conflict ravages the masses, and an empire gradually emerges to one day become a global power.
Kassy Lee's The Period of Warring States looks to this era as inspiration but flips its structure, imagining an America slowly eroding to independent states at war with one another. An expatriate aware of the turmoil back home, the narrator roves the streets of Beijing, attempting to make sense of her day-to-day life in what has become the leader of the "free" world. Taking after Octavia Butler's The Parable of the Sower, Lee touches upon themes of exile, gender, consumer capitalism, and Sino-American relations in elusive vignettes telling of a world in which "death happens only once, and then all is rewound."