By Jennifer Reese
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:54 AM EDT

Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch

C+
type
  • Book
genre

Dai Sijie’s daffy second novel recounts the misadventures of hapless Mr. Muo, China’s first Freudian analyst, as he travels across his homeland in search of a virgin woman. Far from predatory, Muo has only the most laughably honorable intentions: His college sweetheart is a political prisoner, and a judge has agreed to free her in exchange for an introduction to ”a girl whose red melon has not yet been slashed.” A sexual naïf and all-around goofball, 40-year-old Muo is robbed, thrown in an insane asylum, and relieved of his own virginity by a woman dubbed the Embalmer. Whimsical to the point of being nonsensical, Mr. Muo’s Traveling Couch lacks the storytelling discipline and tart finish that made Dai’s 2001 debut, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, such a delight.

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Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch

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