Little Gods by Meng Jin


Here’s another book I learned about on this blog and just finished reading.  It is a complicated story that struggles with identity in terms of class, culture, education, gender, historical context and family.  It also explores the importance of the lens(es) one uses to reflect upon one’s experience.  The mother/daughter relationship is especially central to the story, but each character, in his or her own way, is key to this  haunting tale.

I have always been fascinated by the ideas I have learned reading about quantum physics (for the lay person!).  In the novel, the mother, Su Lan, is a physicist who sees her world through the lens of science–especially theories about entropy and time.  The story begins at the end and ends at the beginning.  At the end of the book, Su Lan suggests imagining two travelers leaving the same point in space/time and traveling around a 4 dimensional sphere that includes time as a dimension–one person headed into the future and one headed into the past.  According to Su Lan, just like two people circling earth, these two travelers will eventually collide.  At another point in the story Su Lan laments that scientists have prioritized  probability over possibility which limits the imagination.  For me, Su Lan’s scientific perspective gives the book a fascinating layer that stretched my own imagination to think beyond our usual understanding of time as linear and entropy as a movement in one direction only.

I am grateful to the person who wrote the original review of Little Gods which moved me to read this novel.  Thanks, JNaz, for leading me to Apeirogone.

2 comments on “Little Gods by Meng Jin”

  1. I was talking about female physicists in class today 🙂 Glad that you are able to return to reads you learn from here — I have such a long running list who knows when I’ll ever get back to some of these fine reads ! Well done, B ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara, finally. Finally getting in here to ponder this review. There is so much that intrigues me about what you have written – mother/daughter, quantum physics, and, always, time as the fourth dimension. This distinction between probability and possibility fascinates. I think there is a poem in there.

    Heading in to put this book on my library “for later” shelf.


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