The Man with the Compound Eyes: A Novel
Wu Ming-Yi, Darryl Sterk
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
When a tsunami sends a massive island made entirely of trash crashing into the Taiwanese coast, two very different people--an outcast from a mythical island and a woman on the verge of suicide--are united in ways they never could have imagined. Here is the English-language debut of a new and exciting award-winning voice from Taiwan, who has written an "astonishing" novel (The Independent) that is at once fantasy, reality, and dystopian environmental saga.
Fifteen-year-old Atile'i--a native of Wayo Wayo, an island somewhere in the Pacific--has come of age. Following the custom of his people, he is set adrift as a sacrifice to the Sea God but, unlike those who have gone before him, Atile'i is determined to defy precedent and survive. His chances seem slim, but just as it appears that hope is lost, Atile'i comes across a sprawling trash vortex floating in the ocean and climbs onto it.
Meanwhile, on the east coast of Taiwan, Alice, a college professor, is overcome with grief. Her husband and son are missing, having disappeared while hiking in the mountains near their home. Alice is so distraught that she decides to end her own life. But her plans are interrupted by a violent storm that causes the trash vortex to collide with the Taiwanese coast, bringing Atile'i along with it. Alice and Atile'i subsequently form an unlikely friendship that helps each of them come to terms with what they have lost. Together they set out to uncover the mystery of Alice's lost family, following their footsteps into the mountains. Intertwined with Alice and Atile'i's story are the lives of others affected by the tsunami, from environmentalists to Taiwan's indigenous peoples--and, of course, the mysterious man with the compound eyes.
A work of lyrical beauty that combines magical realism and environmental fable, The Man with the Compound Eyes is an incredible story about the bonds of family, the meaning of love, and the lasting effects of human destruction.
strength deplete. He’s never imagined his body is this heavy. He looks up, and all he can see is an endless stone wall. He has to wipe the sweat on his brow away with his arm, so it doesn’t sting his beautiful brown eyes, which from a certain angle look a bit blue. When he is about halfway down, the boy’s foot slips. In a moment of panic he plummets. Luckily he returns to the wall, but by this point his energy is drained, and he can go no further, neither up nor down. At first his body feels
Atile’i was my teacher, and Nale’ida, too, has taught me well, so even though I’ve never gone to sea I know its ways. Now all I need is your blessing, and nourishment for the trip, that I may find Atile’i safe and sound.” “Atile’i’s dead and gone, Nana.” “He is not dead. I know. I feel it.” “Nana, do you realize there’s a little soul in your body? Atile’i is in your belly.” “Yina, I know. I want to show Atile’i the Atile’i growing inside me.” “Nana, do you know where Atile’i is?” “I know
hearing her talk about Toto. The very sight of her put people on alert. Oh no, here she comes again, they seemed to say to themselves. Language might increase the distance of a story, making it seem even further away, but Atile’i was sensitive enough to realize that Alice really missed her son. That was the way it was, no doubt about it. He didn’t have to understand her story to intuit how she felt. When Alice mentioned for the umpteenth time what it had been like with Toto around, Atile’i
over the island, discovering that most parts of it were none too firm. Some spots were quite spongy, like traps. Sometimes you could sink to a depth of several grown men or so before rising up again. A round object caught Atile’i’s attention. If he turned it toward the sun it shone with a dazzling rainbow light, but if he held it toward himself, Atile’i saw a tawny, mottled, lacerated face. Could something so hard be made of water? he wondered. Otherwise how could it reflect my appearance?
forest critters noticed. The damp, long-settled leaves were silent, but the freshly fallen leaves sounded like brittle bones. Atile’i snapped the bones of the forest floor with every step. It was raining now, the raindrops falling gently, and when Atile’i looked up he thought he could see the end of every thread of rain. They finally managed to get through the forest to the base of the massive cliff before nightfall. It was like a wall, a giant creature. All the winds in the world had to stop