PositiveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksMore than just a question of character complexity, the writing in Vagabonds itself, here translated by Ken Liu, resists clear definitions. The book’s tone could be described as \'dreamlike\' — Hao excels at narratives that exist at a remove, as if the reader is witnessing events happen at distance. This pace makes it unclear at times as to which characters are important and which events are significant and hold latent meaning ... profoundly disorienting and surreal, as if the world is emerging temporarily and then fading back into the mists of history ... It’s through this exquisite insistence on transience that Hao masterfully demonstrates both the dreamy ungraspability of the passage of time and the inability of any individual to fully narrativize their own life, to pinpoint any specific moment as the moment of import and thus reify it ... disorienting and complex, liminality weaponized as a way to keep the reader perpetually aware of the ultimate transience of discrete moments within the greater momentum of history ... it’s hard to read Vagabonds as anything other than a science fictional treatment of contemporary idealized Sino-American relations, written by someone clearly aware of both internal and external stereotypes about China and Chinese culture ... Reading and understanding Vagabonds is like starting at the core of an onion and finding yourself still inside after peeling away layer after layer. To do so — and to believe that doing so will provide hard answers — is, as one of Hao’s characters puts it, to make a mess of a world that relies on nuance and complexity. Vagabonds refuses easy answers, inviting the reader to return to the beginning, to steadfastly refusing to provide a map to any kind of origin. Messy or not, it’s up to the reader to find their own answers.