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  1. I read this purely because it was number 5 in Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century. I was slightly disappointed to discover it's a rather formulaic action adventure story regarding a group of Chinese communists in 1927. Truth be told, I found reading it a bit of a slog. Malraux is very articulate and writes sweeping sentences that contain a million ideas and thoughts. But as a style, it's not always compelling to read and while I might condemn the translator more than the writer for that, I think that would be too simplistic. Malraux clearly meanders a great deal and produces a swamp of words that don't really go anywhere or give any meaningful information to the reader. And he dwells on political or economic concepts that might successfully explain the story's background a little but which are definitely not fun to read. The plot predominantly follows Ch'en and Kyo but there's quite a few other characters too. These two individuals are part of the communist insurrection and endeavour to acquire arms or recruit men. Ch'en takes it upon himself to try and assassinate Chaing Kai-Shek. At times, the narrative was interesting but just when it became so, Malraux would go back to filling the pages with dense paragraphs that never really went anywhere and soon, I was losing focus again. I've certainly read worse but the book just never grabbed me. Truth be told, as I get older, I've become less and less interested in plot driven narratives. I'd prefer to hear something more personal where one person's worldview is explored. Plots tend to bore me a little. Slightly bewildered as to why this book is (seemingly) so popular in France. Maybe it's no more complicated than the romanticisation of communism. Glad I read it but I doubt I'll be reading any more of his work. 5/10
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