More Stories of China
The Matchmaker, the Apprentice, and the Football Fan moves between anarchic campuses, maddening communist factories, and the victims of China's economic miracle to showcase the absurdity, injustice, and socialist Gothic of everyday Chinese life.
In "The Football Fan," readers fall in with an intriguingly unreliable narrator who may or may not have killed his elderly neighbor for a few hundred yuan. The bemused antihero of "Reeducation" is appalled to discover that, ten years after graduating during the pro-democracy protests of 1989, his alma mater has summoned him back for a punitive bout of political reeducation with a troublesome ex-girlfriend. "Da Ma's Way of Talking" is a fast, funny recollection of China's picaresque late 1980s, told through the life and times of one of our student narrator's more controversial classmates; while "The Apprentice" plunges us into the comic vexations of life in a more-or-less planned economy, as an enthusiastic young graduate is over-exercised by his table-tennis-fanatic bosses, deprived of sleep by gambling-addicted colleagues, and stuffed with hard-boiled eggs by an overzealous landlady. Full of acute observations, political bite, and piercing insight into friendships and romance, these stories further establish Zhu Wen as a fearless commentator on human nature and contemporary China.
Zhu's quirky rogue's gallery is both entertaining and revealing, as murderers ("The Football Fan") and apostates (all the rest) illuminate the volatile period that preceded contemporary China's espousal of capitalist enterprise--if not democratic reform.
Zhu Wen's plotting is brilliant, and his writing is cinematic and evocative. These eight stories are both funny and complex, and offer a true insight into the life of the modern Chinese.
This collection of dark tales by Zhu Wen offers an unflinching social commentary on post-communist China, though it could as easily be read as that of universal human nature.
Su Hsing Loh
A fascinating, often bleakly amusing, snapshot of China's urban anomie.
A solid, well-written collection... [that] certainly offers some interesting glimpses of life in modern China. Worthwhile.
Sly humor... suffuses these stories, which, unlike some of the lives [Zhu Wen] describes, are never dreary.
[ The Matchmaker, the Apprentice, and the Football Fan] will appeal to readers looking for a more vivid, more human picture of modern China.... Funny and inventive.
A Note About Chinese Names and RomanizationAcknowledgmentsDa Ma's Way of TalkingThe MatchmakerThe ApprenticeThe Football FanXiao LiuMr. Hu, Are You Coming Out to Play Basketball This Afternoon?ReeducationThe Wharf