Imagine, if you will, that you have picked up a set of Chinese government files and begun to read.
Two government agents have been questioning the residents of Silver Hill Village. It appears that something unusual has happened.
The truth emerges slowly.
In 2012 on the twentieth day of the seventh moon Kwok Yun, a young peasant woman, was making her way across the rice fields on her Flying Pigeon bicycle. Along the way, she saw a UFO and then she went to the aid of an American traveller who had been bitten by a snake.
Several months later the American gave a large dollar cheque to the village as a token of gratitude for Yun’s actions. This inspired Chang Lee, the chief of the village, to make ambitious plans for its development.
The villagers initially liked the scheme, but as their lives were disrupted by the growth of the “UFO industry” and their chief’s growing ambitions, they came to like it rather less.
Meanwhile, Kwok Yun enjoyed her celebrity status.
Xialou throws up some nice ideas about life in rural China, the effects of modernization and pervading Western influences. Serious points are made with a dash of humour and a very light touch.
The execution of the book as a series of reports is fun and very well executed, but it does rather restrict the story and any character development.
And so overall this was a fun read, but not an essential one.