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Description de l’éditeur
In five richly imaginative novellas and a short story, Zhu Wen depicts the violence, chaos, and dark comedy of China in the post-Mao era. A frank reflection of the seamier side of his nation's increasingly capitalist society, Zhu Wen's fiction offers an audaciously plainspoken account of the often hedonistic individualism that is feverishly taking root.
Set against the mundane landscapes of contemporary China-a worn Yangtze River vessel, cheap diners, a failing factory, a for-profit hospital operating by dated socialist norms-Zhu Wen's stories zoom in on the often tragicomic minutiae of everyday life in this fast-changing country. With subjects ranging from provincial mafiosi to nightmarish families and oppressed factory workers, his claustrophobic narratives depict a spiritually bankrupt society, periodically rocked by spasms of uncontrolled violence.
For example, I Love Dollars, a story about casual sex in a provincial city whose caustic portrayal of numb disillusionment and cynicism, caused an immediate sensation in the Chinese literary establishment when it was first published. The novella's loose, colloquial voice and sharp focus on the indignity and iniquity of a society trapped between communism and capitalism showcase Zhu Wen's exceptional ability to make literary sense of the bizarre, ideologically confused amalgam that is contemporary China.
Julia Lovell's fluent translation deftly reproduces Zhu Wen's wry sense of humor and powerful command of detail and atmosphere. The first book-length publication of Zhu Wen's fiction in English, I Love Dollars and Other Stories of China offers readers access to a trailblazing author and marks a major contribution to Chinese literature in English.
Written during the mid- to late-1990s, Wen's first work to be translated into English is a collection of bleak, absurdist tales chronicling the underside of China's capitalist miracle as experienced by young men whose lives exhibit none of the glittering promise of economic progress. In the title novella, a son haggles with prostitutes in an embarrassingly misguided attempt to entertain his visiting father. In "A Hospital Night," a young man is manipulated by his girlfriend into keeping watch over her sick and resentful father in a hospital staffed by brutish nurses. The workers in "Ah, Xiao Xie" try desperately to quit their jobs at an under-construction and over-budget "national showcase" power plant that is unable to produce power, but are prevented from doing so. Zhu Wen portrays the banal details of his settings with precision it's no surprise that he has since transformed himself into an award-winning filmmaker (Seafood, 2001). Given the abiding sense of hopelessness, the book has its tedious moments, but it is saved by a narrative voice that is by turns low-key, flippant and neurotic, and highly readable as translated by Lovell.