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.
"Highly readable." — Publishers Weekly
"Zhu Wen has a brilliant feel for detail in this colloquial, slangy translation." — Wingate Packard, Seattle Times
"Brilliant... Wonderful... I Love Dollars is a publication that's not to be missed." — Bradley Winterton, Taipei Times
"Splendidly translated by Julia Lovell... an absorbing portrait of the go-go years in China." — Jonathan Spence, London Review of Books
"Zhu Wen's fiction is written in a relaxed, comic style that is both engaging and insightful in its aubtle delineation of profound social issues. His strengths as a literary stylist are his attention to detail, his imagination, his intelligence, and his irony, resulting in vignettes of everyday life that register at multiple levels." — Robin L. Visser, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"Through these irreverent and darkly amusing narratives, Zhu Wen articulates a new literary sensibility and offers a relentlessly sharp-eyed commentary on everyday life in contemporary China. His rambling, neurotic, and often hapless first-person narrator finds in sarcasm the best way to cope with the concretely absurd world that he inhabits. Listen to him and you will find yourself drawn into situations not all that different from what has made the TV show Seinfeld so memorable." — Xiaobing Tang, University of Southern California
A Note About Chinese Names and Romanization
Da Ma's Way of Talking
The Football Fan
Finalist2008 Kiriyama Prize