A Choice of Evils

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on 12th February 1996

Meira Chand’s epic and exciting new novel is set against the backdrop of the Sino-Japanese war, from the time Japan annexed Manchuria in the early 1930s until the end of the Second World War.

During these years a militaristic Japan pursued an aggressive dream to colonize not only China but the whole of South-East Asia and beyond. The brutal sacking of Chiang Kai-shek’s new capital, Nanking, which refused to surrender to the Imperial Army, was a graphic example of Japanese retribution in a war of punishment. During six horrendous weeks the city was shut off from the world, and several hundred thousand Chinese died in an orgy of killing and rape at the hands of a marauding Japanese army.

Meria Chand tells the story of these tumultuous years through the lives of a disparate group of fictional characters, people in flight from both political tyranny and themselves. A young Russian woman emigre is caught between her complex love affair with a British journalist and an overwhelming passion for a liberal-minded Japanese diplomat who dares to stand by his conscience against all odds. An Indian nationalist working for Japanese intelligence, a Chinese professor with communist sympathies, an American missionary doctor and a Japanese soldier are all brought together by the monstrous dislocation of war and the need to stand witness to humanity’s basest acts.