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In the peaceable, river-side village of Milltown, Secretary Ku has fallen into disgrace. It has been officially proven that he is not the son of a revolutionary martyr, but the issue of a river pirate and a prostitute. Mocked by his neighbors, Ku leaves the shore for a new life among the boat people. Refusing to renounce his high status, he?along with his teenage son?keeps his distance from the gossipy lowlifes who surround him. Then one day a feral girl, Huixian, arrives looking for her mother, and the boat ...
In the peaceable, river-side village of Milltown, Secretary Ku has fallen into disgrace. It has been officially proven that he is not the son of a revolutionary martyr, but the issue of a river pirate and a prostitute. Mocked by his neighbors, Ku leaves the shore for a new life among the boat people. Refusing to renounce his high status, he—along with his teenage son—keeps his distance from the gossipy lowlifes who surround him. Then one day a feral girl, Huixian, arrives looking for her mother, and the boat people, and especially Ku's son, take her to their hearts. But Huixian sows conflict wherever she goes, and soon the boy is in the grip of an obsession.
Raw, emotional, and unerringly funny, the Man Asian Prize-winning novel from China's bestselling literary author is a story of a people caught in the stranglehold not only of their own desires and needs, but also of a Party that sees everything and forgives nothing.
Winner of the 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize
In a loosely paced, prize-winning political satire, possible descendants of a Chinese revolutionary martyr are linked to an orphan girl with a bourgeois attitude.
Su Tong (My Life as Emperor, 2005, etc.) won the Asian Man Literary Prize for this salty tragicomedy tracing an absurdly burdened life in the era of the Cultural Revolution. Its central character is Dongliang, whose father believes himself the son of revolutionary heroine Deng Shaoxiang, a fact proved by the fish-shaped birthmark on his backside. But when an investigative team declares the claim invalid, 15-year-old Dongliang's world falls apart. His father's "lifestyle problems" (multiple sexual liaisons) also come to light, and divorce follows. Forced to choose between his parents, Dongliang accompanies his father into a life of shame on a fishing barge where Ku tries to castrate himself. The curious tone of the story lends a farcical, occasionally even dreamy edge to a tale layered with subtle references to China's recent past as well as burdensome sexuality and sorrow. Dongliang is often adrift, a misfit who only discovers some purpose when an orphan child, Huixian, is found on the barge. But Dongliang's feelings are not reciprocated, and Huixian grows up first to a life of success and then experiences her own fall from grace.
This meandering, oddly shaped novel is likely to be of greater impact to readers familiar with its context.
Posted November 16, 2012
This is an amazing novel, not so much for its plot (which is quite interesting), but for the various characters/caricatures that Su Tong develops in this narrative. This a a novel that slices into the core of the spirit of the so called Cultural Revolution.
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