Grove Press, Black Cat
February 18, 2008
5.6 X 0.6 X 8.24 inches | 0.59 pounds
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About the Author
Yan Lianke is the author of numerous story collections and novels, including The Years, Months, Days; The Explosion Chronicles, which was longlisted for the Man Booker International and PEN Translation Prize; The Four Books; Lenin's Kisses; Serve the People!, and Dream of Ding Village. Among many accolades, he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize, he was twice a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize, and he has been shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Man Asian Literary Prize, and the Prix Femina Étranger. He has received two of China's most prestigious literary honors, the Lu Xun Prize and the Lao She Award.
Julia Lovell is an author, translator, and academic. She is the author of the widely acclaimed The Great Wall: China Against the World 1000 BC-AD 2000, which was published in eighteen countries. She has translated many key Chinese works into English, including Lust, Caution by Eileen Chang, The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun, and Serve the People by Yan Lianke. She is a lecturer in modern Chinese history and literature at the University of London and writes for the Guardian, The Times, the Economist, and the Times Literary Supplement. She spends a large part of the year in China with her family.
"Yan Lianke's "Serve the People!" is a scathing sendup of life in 1960s China during the chaos of the country's Cultural Revolution. Serialized in the Chinese literary magazine Hua Cheng in 2005 and then banned by the Central Propaganda Bureau, Lianke's novel takes aim at one and all, from impotent leaders and their scandalous wives to amoral People's Liberation Army soldiers scheming their way up the ranks, peasant farmers plagued by drought, and even the great Mao himself. Lianke spares no one . . . "Serve the People!" is a wonderfully biting satire, brimming with absurdity, humor and wit . . .the novel is exuberantly drawn in several shades of revolutionary (or should that be Revlon?) red." --LA Times "This passionate satire of clandestine, intimate privilege in an ostensibly classless, egalitarian society is exceedingly carefully written, so that it is at once funny, sad, and bitterly ironic on nearly every page. Oh, and sensual, too." --Ray Olson, Booklist (starred review) "Yan's work certainly contains its share of double entendres and may even be perceived as comedic at times, but on a deeper level, it offers a sociopolitical commentary on a way of life generally unfamiliar to Westerners." --Library Journal "Yan's satire brilliantly exposes the emptiness of Maoist ideals and the fraudulent ends for which they were used, but also relates a sorrowful tale of compromised relationships and modest hopes left unfulfilled." --Publishers Weekly "Steamy and subversive . . . Lianke [is] one of China's greatest living authors and fiercest satirists." --Jonathan Watts, The Guardian "Yan Lianke's slim novel drips with the kind of satire that can only come from deep within the machinery of Chinese communism. Eschewing broad comedy, Yan barbs the text with enough social criticism to receive a priceless blurb from the Central Propaganda Bureau." --Craig Taylor, Financial Times "Not just sexy, but also tender . . . Lianke peppers the book with useful passages on the art of writing itself, and makes his readers aware of semantic manipulation and the power of words, their ability to brainwash and erase thoughts." --Waterstone's Books Quarterly (UK) "An exhilarating comedy of misunderstandings . . . Yan Lianke is one of the most popular and controversial writers of his generation." --La Repubblica (Italy) "It is Ionesco in full. And the last pages of the book, melancholy and mysterious, make it possible to measure the variety of the talent of the novelist." --Le Figaro (Paris)