Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Yu is one of contemporary China's most celebrated but controversial writers. With much wit and elegance, he reminisces here in separate pieces (only one has been previously published) about his country's experiences over the past several decades, using personal stories as well as a piercing, critical examination of China's political, economic, and social transformation from what was essentially a Third World state into a superpower. Best known for his novels, e.g., Brothers, which satirize the country's moral depredation and its devolution into a hypercapitalist society, Yu chooses ten phrases-"people," "leader," "reading," "writing," "Lu Xun," "disparity," "revolution," "grassroots," "copycat," and "bamboozle"-that capture what he sees as China's most pressing issues over the last 60 years. His commentary is wide and varied, touching on everything from the country's severe economic and social disparity since the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s to his own rise from uneducated, small-town "teeth puller" to one of the most highly regarded writers of his time. VERDICT A marvelous book for those interested in contemporary China, by one of China's foremost intellectuals.-Allan Cho, Univ. of British Columbia Lib., Vancouver (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The first nonfiction publication in English from the celebrated fiction writer Yu Hua (b. 1960), this book is unique in conception, structure, and style. Ten simple words ("people," "leader," "copycat," to name just three) serve as titles for Yu's essays and provide thematic coherence. Through scenes of ordinary life from the present and his memories of the past, Yu shows China's amazing economic success and social change in recent decades, and also the rampant government corruption, materialistic indulgence, "moral bankruptcy," and the disturbing disparity between the rich and poor. Yu traces the causes of numerous social ills not just to the Mao era, but particularly to the crackdown on dissent in spring 1989, which halted political reform while giving economic development a free rein. In exposing many serious problems confronted by the impoverished and disenfranchised, the book is somewhat comparable to Liao Yiwu's interview-based Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories, China from the Bottom Up (2008). But Yu Hua's book is distinguished by his typical style in storytelling, his mixing of extremely moving and funny scenes, and his subtle irony--all of which, aided by Barr's fluent and succinct translation, make it an inspirational read. Summing Up: Essential. All readers. Y. Wu University of California, Riverside
Author notes provided by Syndetics
<p> Yu Hua is the author of four novels, six collections of stories, and three collections of essays. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. In 2002, he became the first Chinese writer to win the James Joyce Award. His novel Brothers was short-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize and awarded France's Prix Courrier International. To Live was awarded Italy's Premio Grinzane Cavour, and To Live and Chronicle of a Blood Merchant were ranked among the ten most influential books in China in the 1990's by Wen Hui Bao , the largest newspaper in Shanghai. Yu Hua lives in Beijing.</p>