A bestseller in China, Brothers is an epic and wildly unhinged black comedy of modern Chinese society running amok.
Here is China as we've never seen it before, in a sweeping, Rabelaisian panorama of forty years of rough-and-rumble Chinese history, from the madness of the Cultural Revolution to the equally rabid madness of extreme materialism. Yu Hua, award-winning author of To Live, gives us a surreal tale of two comically mismatched stepbrothers, Baldy Li, a sex-obsessed ne'er-do-well, and the bookish, sensitive Song Gang, who vow that they will always be brothers—a bond they will struggle to maintain over the years as they weather the ups and downs of rivalry in love and making and losing millions in the new China.
Both tragic and absurd by turns, Brothers is a fascinating vision of an extraordinary place and time.
Baldy Li, the hero of Yu's epic third novel, comes into the world on the same day his father slips to a disgraceful demise while ogling women in a public toilet. The incident is big news in tiny Liu Town, China, and leaves the family tainted with shame. Yet even as Baldy Li and his mother, Li Lan, cower under the taunts of their neighbors, things begin to change for the better. The tall, handsome Song Fanping falls in love with Li Lan and marries her. Li Lan gains new happiness and Baldy Li gains an older stepbrother, Song Gang. Together, the two boys weather the changes of the Cultural Revolution, reform and globalization, and Yu's unflinching narrative, by turns tragic and hilarious, shows ordinary lives being broken down and built up again. Whether Baldy Li is peddling scraps or using Sun Tzu's war tactics to court the village beauty, Hua weaves the common thread of humanity through all his actions and desires. By the last page, the novel has imparted a whole world of histories and personalities that are difficult to forget.