Canadian

The Water Beetles

The Water Beetles is Michael Kaan's debut novel.

Michael Kaan

The Leung family leads a life of secluded luxury in Hong Kong. But in December 1941, the Empire of Japan invades the colony. The family is quickly dragged into a spiral of violence, repression and starvation. To survive, they entomb themselves and their friends in the Leung mansion. But this is only a temporary reprieve, and the Leungs are forced to send their children away.

The youngest boy, Chung-Man, escapes with some of his siblings, and together they travel deep into the countryside to avoid the Japanese invaders. Thrown into a new world, Chung-Man befriends a young couple who yearn to break free of their rural life. But their friendship ends when the Japanese arrive and Chung-Man is once again taken captive. Unwittingly and unwillingly, he enters a new cycle of violence and punishment until he finally breaks free from his captors and returns to Hong Kong.

Deeply scarred, Chung-Man drifts along respectfully and dutifully, enveloped by the unspoken vestiges of war. It is only as he leaves home once again — this time for university in America — that he finally glimpses a way to keep living with his troubled and divided self. (From Goose Lane Editions)

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