Friday, April 20, 2012

Reading Journal: China in Ten Words, by Yu Hua (2011)

The first non-fiction work I've read in a quite a while, and a choice I'm very happy with. Yu Hua, a fiction writer, takes ten concepts - 10 idiograms on the front cover - and writes a chapter about each, explaining what this idea means to him, and the role these concepts play in both his and China's identity. It's sort of a memoir, and sort of a study, and in the end (the late chapters, "Copycat" and "Bamboozle"), it's very critical of China's "economic miracle," and the greed and corruption and dishonesty on which this "success" has been built. The chapters "Reading," "Writing" and "Revolution" are particularly bracing, as well. Best of all, it's Hua's writing that gets you truly into the country, flourshing in the beginning chapter - "The People" - by taking you to Tianenmen Square in 1989. My next read about China will be something about the censorship of literature in that country; I'm fairly ignorant, but this struck me as a book the Chinese government doesn't want you to read. Trans. Allan H. Barr.

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