Set in Wang Zengqi’s hometown of Gaoyou, A Moment at Lake Danao starts by describing the area and its spirit before moving onto the lives of the people there – the tinsmiths, the porters, the constables. But its true focus is on the love story that unfolds between tinsmith Shiyizi and Huang Qiaoyun, the daughter of a skilled porter. And just as the title suggests, the novel is not just about the goings-on of a few people, but rather the affections shared from one moment to the next. Instead of piling on character and plot details, Wang instead sprinkles on enough to build a harmonious network of relations. In addition, themes thought to be contemptible or unmentionable in other authors’ stories show up here in all their detail, which demonstrates Wang’s ability to appreciate and understand.
As a whole, A Moment at Lake Danao brims with life, pulling distinct images of city life together with the natural simplicity of local customs. And despite the work’s prominent traditions and lifestyles, look a little deeper and you’ll find prose that echoes with love and brotherhood. Its beauty of scenery, relations, and humanity are felt everywhere, giving this story a soul that audiences will ponder for decades.