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The Bathing Women: A Novel
By Tie Ning
(Scribner, $27)

Chinese novelist Tie Ning tells of four friends who come of age during the Cultural Revolution and wrestle with the fallout as adults in the ’90s. Sisters Tiao and Fan navigate a childhood rife with tragedy, heartbreak and embarrassment built atop the shameful death of their 2-year-old sister, only to find that adulthood is no less complicated. The sisters’ friends, the earnest Youyou and the intractable Fei, accompany them on a journey through time that transcends the page. Ning escorts the reader through the underbelly of love, family and jealousy in prose that’s pure poetry and a privilege to read.