Four Chinese Novels Reviewed

In the New York Times book review, four Chinese novels are reviewed. Jonathan Spence reviews Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out by Mo Yan; Pankaj Mishra reviews Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong; Francine Prose reviews Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi; and Liesl Schillinger reviews Serve the People! by Yan Lianke. In the same issue, an essay about Chinese pop fiction looks at writer Guo Jingming:

Guo is the most successful of a dozen young celebrity authors who make up the “post-’80s” generation, some others of whom have also achieved book sales in the millions. This group includes the high school dropout and professional car racer Han Han, 25, who derides China’s inefficient educational system in his novels and regularly insults older, more established artists on his blog, and Zhang Yueran, 26, whose novel “Daffodils Took Carp and Went Away” features a bulimic girl who falls in love with her stepfather, is mistreated by her mother and is sent off to boarding school.

While the Chinese government frequently jails dissident writers or forces them into exile, it mostly ignores the antics of Guo and the other post-’80s writers. For all their flamboyance, they exemplify the social ideals of the new China — commercialism and individualism — said Lydia Liu, a professor of Chinese and comparative literature at Columbia University. They “don’t pose any threat,” Liu said. “They collaborate.”

May 3, 2008 6:07 PM
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Categories: Culture & the Arts