Two Chinese Brothers
October 18, 2009 8:03 PM Subscribe
"This is a novel born out of the intersection of two eras.
posted by escabeche (25 comments total)
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The first is a story of the Cultural Revolution, a time of fanaticism, repressed instincts, and tragic fates, similar to the European Middle Ages. The second is a story of today, a time of subverted ethics, fickle sensuality, and every kind of phenomena, even more like the Europe of today. A westerner would have to live four hundred years to experience the vast differences of the two eras, but a Chinese would only need forty years for the experience." Yu Hua's Brothers
, a sprawling, foul-mouthed, comic-historical epic, and the best-selling novel in China's history, is available in English.
(The quote above comes from the afterword
, not included in the US edition.)
The New York Times didn't care for the translation
, by Eileen Chow and Carlos Rojas
; Chinese litblog Paper Republic criticized the review
, leading to an interesting comment thread in which both Chow and the NYT reviewer participate.
Yu got even tougher treatment from local critics, who were baffled by Yu's abandonment of his previous restrained, literary style. Cang Hang (translation via Paper Republic) calls the book "a 500,000 character trash heap."
Read an excerpt from Brothers and listen to the relevant podcast at NPR.