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Decoded [Anglais] [Relié]

Jia Mai , Olivia Milburn , Christopher Payne

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Description de l'ouvrage

18 mars 2014
Decoded tells the story of Rong Jinzhwen, one of the great code-breakers in the world. A semi-autistic mathematical genius, Jinzhen is recruited to the cryptography department of China's secret services, Unit 701, where he is assigned the task of breaking the elusive 'Code Purple'. Jinzhen rises through the ranks to eventually become China's greatest and most celebrated code-breaker; until he makes a mistake. Then begins his descent through the unfathomable darkness of the world of cryptology into madness. Decoded was an immediate success when it was published in 2002 in China and has become an international bestseller. With the pacing of a literary crime thriller, Mai Jia's masterpiece also combines elements of historical fiction and state espionage. Taking place in the shadowy world of Chinese secret security, where Mai Jia worked for decades, it introduces us to a place that is unfamiliar, intriguing and authentic. And with Rong Jinzhen, it introduces us to a character who is deeply flawed and fragile, yet possessing exceptional intelligence. Decoded is an unforgettable and gripping story of genius, brilliance, insanity and human frailty.Mai Jia (the pseudonym of Jiang Benhu) is arguably the most successful writer in China today. His books are constant bestsellers, with total sales over three million copies. He became the highest paid author in China last year with his new book, Wind Talk. He has achieved unprecedented success with film adaptation: all of his novels are made - or are being made - into major films or TV series, the screenplays of which are often written by Mai Jia himself. He is hailed as the forerunner of Chinese espionage fiction, and has created a unique genre that combines spycraft, code-breaking, crime, human drama, historical fiction, and metafiction. He has won almost every major award in China, including the highest literary honor - the Mao Dun Award.
--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

A mixture of Kafka and Agatha Christie . . . One of the joys of Decoded is its rich evocation of Chinese culture . . . What is this book really about? The clue is in the title. This book is more about Jiang 'decoding' himself than breaking enemy encryption. It is an autobiography operating under the cover of spy fiction - and an utterly fascinating read . . . Olivia Milburn's translation is superb (Edward Wilson The Independent)

The novel shines in its consideration of the ambiguous difficulties of living with such brilliance . . . Decoded is compelling for its tightly wrought aphorisms, elegantly turned in Olivia Milburn's translation . . . An engaging and highly unusual read (Sunday Independent)

FINALLY, a great Chinese novel . . . This strange, twisting tale is told in fizzy, vivid and often beautiful prose. It is an absolute joy to read (Economist)

Decoded is a subtle and complex exploration of cryptography, politics, dreams and their significance . . . There is much of interest in this book, from the strange, superstitious beginning to the gradual decline of the Rong family as the twentieth century progresses . . . But in the end, it's the complexity of the characters that is Decoded's enduring pleasure (London Review of Books)

Strongly recalls One Hundred Years of Solitude, only this time with the tapestry stitched in silk (Sunday Business Post)

The book's subtle ambiguity is extended to its own conclusion, the decoding of which the reader is compelled to take part in. As for the shrewd, poetic, baffled figure at the heart of this maze, Rong Jinzhen comes to perceive the yin and yang of a cosmic order offering not much consolation (Wall Street Journal)

Subtle and psychologically focused . . . the central story is a gripping one . . . it leaves you eager to read more of his work (Alexander Larman The Observer) --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Biographie de l'auteur

Mai Jia (the pseudonym of Jiang Benhu) is arguably the most successful writer in China today. His books are constant bestsellers, with total sales over three million copies. He is hailed as the forerunner of Chinese espionage fiction, and has created a unique genre that combines spycraft, code-breaking, crime, human drama, historical fiction, and metafiction. He has won almost every major award in China, including the highest literary honor - the Mao Dun Award. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 3.6 étoiles sur 5  82 commentaires
15 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Family history, mathematical genius -- and espionage 20 février 2014
Par S. McGee - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
This evolves into a compelling and intelligent thriller -- eventually. The key word here being "eventually", as a reader who's expecting Daniel Silva-like thrills and chills right out of the gate will be bemused, bewildered and frustrated. Because before we ever watch mathematical genius Rong Jinzhen wrestle with the mysteries of cryptography in a secret Chinese department devoted to the subject, we follow the story of his great-uncle, his grandmother, his father, and his own isolated early childhood. All of those in his line of descent in the Rong family, it seems, are born with extraordinarily large heads: the question is whether that signifies extraordinary ability (as with his grandmother) or extraordinary devilry (as with his father). His family members want nothing whatsoever to do with Jinzhen, so in the years leading up to the Communist victory of 1949, he is raised in a remote corner of his family's large compound, neglected and ignored by everyone except the Western scholar whose interpretation of a matriarch's dream turned out to be the catalyst for the foundation of a new university and China's top school of mathematics. To which Jinzhen, of course, finds his way...

By that point, if you can keep an open mind and trust that the author is leading you somewhere interesting, you're engrossed in Jinzhen's unusual personality and unusual -- astonishing -- abilities. I certainly was, and I felt for him when the authorities -- viewing his mind as merely a tool rather than as part of a person -- put him to work on an apparently unbreakable code in a remote, isolated location. The code is one enemy, but could a friend and mentor be another? Yes, there's suspense, but not in the sense of an action movie. To read and relish this novel, you need to put aside perceptions of what a suspense novel "should" be, and focus instead on this particular tale, as told by this particular novelist.

Admittedly, the mathematical details here made my head spin. But the core story of Jinzhen's troubled past and troubled present was moving and the mystery -- not just the code but the personality of Jinzhen -- was gripping. At its heart, this seemed to me the tale of decoding a complex genius, rather than something as banal as unbreakable codes.

Definitely worth reading for those prepared to deal with the unconventional narrative style, and wait for the author to make his revelations...
21 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant, enigmatic & weirdly whimsical 5 janvier 2014
Par Patto - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
The narrative starts with a fairy-tale-like account of the protagonist's famous family, in which genius and degeneracy appear in different generations. Mathematical genius, however, prevails in Rong Jinzehn, the illegitimate son of a murderer. Jinzehn is nothing like other people – cold, uncommunicative, crude, obsessive, naive. His unlovable personality is oddly lovable.

The fairy tale turns into a spy story when Jinzehn is abruptly recruited by a top-secret intelligence agency and whisked off to a distant and tightly guarded compound. There he becomes a cryptologist and is assigned a seemly impossible code to break.

But Decoded is as much a psychological novel as a tale of espionage. Mai Jia is portraying a man waging a war of the mind and endangering his own mind in the process. The villain of the piece is not some enemy agent but rather cryptology itself. Ciphers are seen as the work of the devil – an exercise of craftiness fed by the evil of humankind and its sinister intent.

This novel is a metaphysical feast of ideas. It plays with the mysteries of mathematics, the relationship of genius and madness, the treacherous underbelly of patriotism and friendship, the nature of God, the power of deceit, the power of dreams...

The narrative structure of the novel is brilliant – contrived to convince the reader that this is a true account, not a mere work of fiction. It's impossible not to believe in the cryptographer and his heartbreaking experiences.

I read that it took Mai Jia ten years to write this book, and that it once ran over a million words. This doesn't surprise me. I have never encountered a more ambitious novel. Mai Jia delves into the elusive working of the mind with poetic abandon, all the while crafting a very good tale. There's even a love story, of sorts, among all the other enigmatic happenings.

Decoded is itself like a code, concealing and revealing the secrets of humanity and society. I loved it.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Decoded 2 avril 2014
Par S Riaz - Publié sur
Before you begin this book – the author’s 2005 debut and his first book to be translated in the West – you will have to put aside every preconception you have about spy novels. Although it is about a mathematical genius who is involved in breaking codes, it takes an awfully long time to reach that part of the story. Indeed, the first part of the book is involved mainly with the family history of the main character and most novels do not usually go into such detail. Mai Jia is a pseudonym for Jiang Benhu, who spent seventeen years in the People’s Liberation Army as an intelligence officer and is, therefore, perfectly placed to relate the story of his character – Rong Jinzhen (nicknamed Zhendi) – from his inauspicious birth to his University career and through to his recruitment at a research facility by the elusive intelligence officer, Zheng the Gimp. Rong Zinzhen is shown with almost autistic traits and we hear often from other characters about their reactions to him and other members of his family (genealogy certainly figures largely in this book), but our information is often through letters and diaries and, therefore, we have a distance from the action. In a way, we are almost with the narrator, discovering information alongside him, as he follows Rong Jinzhen’s path.

Once Rong Jinzhen is recruited, he becomes a cryptographer, involved in breaking a legendary code called Purple. This success causes him to become a Revolutionary Hero, but his attention then turns to the even greater matter of the code called Black. Although this is labelled a spy thriller, it is not in the usual form that you would expect from Le Carre, for instance. However, if you approach this with an open mind, you will find it a strangely compelling read. There is a reason why Mai Jia is such an enormous success in China – a bestselling author who has won China’s highest literary honour, and has had immense success. Before long, you find yourself totally immersed in the world and characters that have been created. His next novel is “In the Dark” and I hope that it will also be translated and appear in English soon.
24 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Dry, Abstruse, and Ultimately Elusive 16 janvier 2014
Par S. L. Smith - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Decoded opens with the very large head of a baby causing the death of the mother during labor; this male child grows up only to die young as a scoundrel and a killer. But not before destroying his family by gambling away its riches. Another baby is allegedly conceived immaculately and its mother prays for a miscarriage by any means. Another horrific birth and maternal demise ensue. Oddly, this baby boy looks very much like the first. But this child, who tends toward silence and mathematical calculations, will have a different fate. He is, in fact, the son of the very large-headed murderous scoundrel. His name is "Duckling"; eventually it is changed to Jinzhen.

Jinzhen is sent away to school, where set variations, chess, and leap year calculations will lead him into a career of cryptography. His brilliant future begins when he goes to work at Unit 701. But curiously, he spends his days reading novels instead. One night he dreams of Mendeleev; inadvertently he solves the PURPLE cypher and gains renown. When the BLACK cypher is presented, national security is at risk. But dreams will not supply the solution Jinzhen needs.

Hoping to divine the BLACK solution some other way, he loses himself in a novel by cryptographer Klaus Johannes who also lost himself while working on the EAGLE cypher. But heading home from a conference, a thief steals the book and Jinzhen's important cypher notebook. National security is further put at risk because a very smart man failed to put his classified notebook in a safety-deposit box. The subsequent meltdown and fallout may be more than Jinzhen can stand.

The last sixth of the book is dizzying; some of it is revelatory. It is framed around the son of a mechanical engineer; he is looking into the story to understand what happened around the BLACK code and Jinzhen's missing notebook. The final chapter is made up of excerpts from one of Jinzhen's notebooks, the contents of which I will not spoil here - especially since I feel that is where the book redeems itself.

Up until the last two sections of the book, I found it dry and quite the opposite of thrilling. A plethora of letters and transcripts provide some context against the prevalent Red Guards and the Mao regime. Honestly, I wanted to just stop reading the book so many times. Its alleged brilliance still escapes me.

Needless to say, if you are a fan of cryptography, you will find precious little on the topic here.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 I'm afraid that this book suffers from being translated 28 mai 2014
Par A book lover in Azle Texas - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I have read all the reviews on this book that had been posted by the time that I had finished this book for myself. The overwhelming conclusion I have come to is that several of us agree that the book was probably not translated well. Apparently it is common for the Chinese to have difficulty with fiction translation. I'm sure that that may have been the case with this book. In several cases the promotion materials for this book referred to it as being a "thriller". I certainly did not find that to be the case at all. Simply a quiet story of a code breaker during the cold war. This was not what I was expecting or looking for at all. Suggest you might want to move on and leave this one alone.
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