"The Girl Who Played Go"

I just finished reading The Girl Who Played Go, by Shan Sa. The title just caught my eye in Madrid’s FNAC and I decided to buy it.

The book tells the story of a Japanese soldier and a young Chinese girl, both Go players in occupied Manchuria in the 30s. The story is full of supressed passions and subtle emotions and written in a clear and elegant style. Some bits that stuck out to me:

I always listen to the sound the stones make, it betrays what the opponent is thinking. Early on in our game the Chinese girl would hold the stones between her first and second fingers and smack them gleefully onto the board; then, as the impact bacame quieter, it communicated her darker moods to me. Today it made a short, crystal-clear sound - she has rediscovered her confidence and vitality! [...] I forbid myself any calculations and I look at the board as a painter would an unfinished canvas. My stones are patches of ink with which I draw places and gaps. In the game of go, only aesthetic perfection leads to victory. [...] I think about my mother, her slender frame wrapped in a widow's kimono. Next to this heartbreaking image I see that of the Chinese girl curled up on the grass. Despite the difference in age and background, they have a common fate: the insurmountable sorrow of an impossible love. Women are the offerings we make to this vast world. [...] Life is an infernal loop where the day before yesterday has merged with today, and yesterday has been jettisoned. We think we are moving forward in time, but we are always prisoners of the past.