THIS STORY RECEIVED YANGTZE RIVER NETWORK LITERATURE COMPETITION AWARD FOR 2020.
Set 1,000 years ago (AD 1021-1026) during China’s Song Dynasty, it centres on the life and times of Fan Zhongyan, a real historical figure in ancient China. “Fan” is his last name, and “Gong” is the most respectful honorific title in Chinese.
This novel focuses on his challenges and accomplishments as a young junior official in the coastal city of Yancheng, literally “Salt City,” located in Jiangsu Province. Although his official duty was managing the salt warehouse, he led the huge and dangerous project of building a massive seawall to protect the land and the people. He constantly put the welfare of the people above his own and overcame a lot of obstacles. Today, people still call it the “FanGong Seawall” in honour of him.
It is a beautifully written story in which the author deftly blends messages with prose, unfurling a narrative depicting Chinese history and culture through its colourful cast of characters. The story is entertaining and includes so much great history, poetry, and universal moral wisdom that still endures today.