February Flowers, by Fan Wu

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The Independent Culture

Recently divorced Chen Ming lives on her own and doesn't seem in a hurry to find a new husband, although she admits, "If I let my mind wander I always end up thinking of Miao Yan, a college friend of mine."

Ten years earlier, Ming and Yan were students at Guangzhou university. Ming was 16 and studying Chinese literature. She'd never had a boyfriend and loved to play the violin. Yan was 24, liked to dance on tables and had no trouble picking up men. Yan dismissed two of Ming's roommates as "girls", but seemed drawn to a third, Yishu: "I like the way she smiles. A seductive smile. She's a woman like me."

This is a novel about places and states that barely exist – things that can't be pinned down and can only be imagined through writing: the space between girlhood and womanhood, the difference between love and lust. Ming's sexuality is never fully explored; her brief friendship with Yan is full of mystery and misunderstanding, and this is what makes the story so perfectly poignant.