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A Private Lifeby Ran Chen
Synopses & Reviews
From one of China's most celebrated contemporary novelists comes this riveting tale of a young woman's emotional and sexual awakening. Set in the turbulent decades of the Cultural Revolution and the Tian'anmen Square incident, A Private Life exposes the complex and fantastical inner life of a young woman growing up during a time of intense social and political upheaval.
At the age of twenty-six, Ni Niuniu has come to accept pain and loss. She has suffered the death of her mother and a close friend and neighbor, Mrs. Ho. She has long been estranged from her tyrannical father, while her boyfriend — a brilliant and handsome poet named Yin Nan — was forced to flee the country. She has survived a disturbing affair with a former teacher, a mental breakdown that left her in a mental institution for two years, and a stray bullet that tore through the flesh of her left leg. Now living in complete seclusion, Niuniu shuns a world that seems incapable of accepting her and instead spends her days wandering in vivid, dreamlike reveries where her fractured recollections and wild fantasies merge with her inescapable feelings of melancholy and loneliness. Yet this eccentric young woman — caught between the disappearing traditions of the past and a modernizing Beijing, a flood of memories and an unknowable future, her chosen solitude and her irrepressible longing — discovers strength and independence through writing, which transforms her flight from the hypocrisy of urban life into a journey of self-realization and rebirth.
First published in 1996 to widespread critical acclaim, Ran Chen's controversial debut novel is a lyrical meditation on memory, sexuality, femininity, and the often arbitrary distinctions between madness and sanity, alienation and belonging, nature and society. As Chen leads the reader deep into the psyche of Ni Niuniu — into her innermost secrets and sexual desires — the borders separating narrator and protagonist, writer and subject dissolve, exposing the shared aspects of human existence that transcend geographical and cultural differences.
turbulent decades spanning the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the deadly demonstrations at Tiananmen Square
Set against a backdrop of the decades that included the Cultural Revolution and the Tian'anmen Square Incident, A Private Life portrays the effect of that social change and political turbulence on the protagonists inner life as she moves from childhood to early maturity. Ni Niuniu is a talented and remarkable young woman who, unable to bear...
Table of Contents
All time has passed away and left me here alone — Dancing on tiptoe in black rain — My one-eyed nanny — I carry an infectious disease — Scissors and seduction — The widow ho and her "changing room" — A stranger to myself — Yi Qiu — The inner room — A coffin looks for an occupant — Bed-a stage for the drama of the sexes — A new myth of Sisyphus — A bed cries out — Yinyang grotto — One person's death brings punishment to another — Endless days — Apple bobbing — A fiery dance of death — A stray bullet — The birth of Miss nothing — The years have passed away and left me here alone — The lonely are a shameless lot.
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