A subtle and slightly chaotic, or more so frenetic novel from the Taiwanese writer Miaojin Qui, this book is structured as several covert notebooks. The style of the novel is confessional, but also fable-like at times, with the “crocodile” in the title acting throughout as a metaphor for Queer people living in the wider context of the writer. We have more than one storyline going at once as we kind of have the narration of a small group of Queer people in Taiwan facing both intense personal and cultural pressure conform, to disappear, to repress themselves, their identity, and their sexuality, as well as overt political pressure based on the suppressive laws. The novel has a kind of paranoid sensibility at times as well, while also being defiant about the dangers inherent in their expressions. And while the novel does has this level of paranoia, it’s important to point out that the dangers are very real.
So you can imagine, that this novel is pretty grim. And it is. It’s intensely melancholic at times, deeply painful, and full of yearning in a number of different ways. The subjectivity of the speaker, whoever is speaking at a given time, feels constantly fleeting throughout, and there’s a sad force of fatalism behind almost the whole book. This is reinforced by any investigation of the author’s personal bio, however separate that might be from the novel itself. So don’t prepare yourself to “enjoy” the novel in that sense, but it’s heartfelt and pained, and touching throughout.