“The Map of Time”
A Novel by Sun Wei
“The Map of Time” tells of the different fates of twelve characters. It is a kind of portrait of a generation in China. From 1989 to 1992, these characters were middle school classmates in Class Two. At that time, they were innocent children and had sincere friendships among each other. But two decades later, in the 2010s, they belonged to totally different social classes, the powerful and the enslaved.
Zhou is the son of a high official. He has become the vice president of a state-owned real estate company. Great power and wealth are in his control.
Dai marries him after graduation. But their relationship is destroyed. While Dai is pregnant, B-scan ultrasonography shows that she is going to have a son. While Dai is delivering the boy, she has a difficult labour and has to have an operation. The situation is very dangerous. The doctor lets Zhou choose who should live, his wife or his son. Zhou chooses his precious son instead of Dai, as if Dai is merely a breeding machine.
Ye is a mistress of Zhou. She is also a former classmate of Class Two. Ye wants to become Zhou’s wife. In addition, she is longing for a kid of her own. However, for the sake of Zhou’s hypocritical public reputation, she has to live in the shadows.
Liang was once as excellent as Zhou at the starting line in Class One. After graduation, he worked harder than Zhou for many years. However, because he was born into a common family, all his efforts were in vain. He did not even have enough money to marry the girl he liked. His construction firm is on the edge of bankruptcy. He has to surrender to his fate. He cringes before Zhou, begging Zhou to place a few orders with his firm.
But Zhou does not even place a single order because Liang does not have enough money to bribe Zhou, like other businessmen do. Zhou sends him to Ye as a servant, ordering him to pay Ye’s bills whenever she wants to eat out. Zhou says, if Ye is satisfied with the service, Liang might still have the opportunity to save his construction firm.
In 2012, other former classmates of Class Two find each other via Chinese Facebook. They plan to build a Home for the Aged for each other. So when they are old, they will be able to stay together and take care of each other, just like the good old days in Class Two. This is an ideal plan which is difficult to put into practice, yet most of the old classmates try to execute the plan. They find land to build the Home and hope Zhou is willing to donate a small amount of national funds to build the house.
However, Zhou wants to take advantage of the plan instead of to help. He plans to seize the land and build a five-star hotel instead of the Home for the Aged. In this way, he will be able to make lots of money from the hotel for himself. Several old classmates join Zhou’s scam and assist him in fooling the others.
In the end, the eleven former classmates face a choice. Who will they serve? Zhou or each other?