For This Writer, China is an Open Book

From Wall Street Journal Asia:

Walking through the capital’s university district, Yu Hua looks more like a migrant worker than one of China’s best-selling authors. His hair short and spiky, his clothes simple and plain, he does not fit in — and clearly doesn’t make much of an effort to do so.

That attitude extends to his view of contemporary society, which he says is so sick that a writer can’t pretend to be a doctor. Instead, the best one can do is admit that one is ill and try to describe the symptoms. This ethos underpins “Brothers,” a sprawling, two-part novel that has just come out in an English translation in the U.S. and will be published in April in Britain.

The book is a manic, hyperactive account of two brothers whose stories span the past 50 years of hardcore communism and today’s no-holds-barred capitalism. “At times the novel is grotesque and crude, but there’s nothing I write about that is more absurd than what goes on in society,” he says as we rush past crowds of university students en route to a restaurant that serves the cuisine of Mr. Yu’s native Zhejiang province.

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