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Brothers: A Novelby Yu Hua
Synopses & Reviews
Baldy li, our Liu Town's premier tycoon, had a fantastic plan of spending twenty million U.S. dollars to purchase a ride on a Russian Federation space shuttle for a tour of outer space. Perched atop his famously gold-plated toilet seat, he would close his eyes and imagine himself already floating in orbit, surrounded by the unfathomably frigid depths of space. He would look down at the glorious planet stretched out beneath him, only to choke up on realizing that he had no family left down on Earth.
Baldy Li used to have a brother named Song Gang, who was a year older and a whole head taller and with whom he shared everything. Loyal, stubborn Song Gang had died three years earlier, reduced to a pile of ashes. When Baldy Li remembered the small wooden urn containing his brother's remains, he had a million mixed emotions. The ashes from even a sapling, he thought, would outweigh those from Song Gang's bones.
Back when Baldy Li’s mother was still alive, she always liked to speakto him about Song Gang as being a chip off the old block. She would emphasize how honest and kind he was, just like his father, and remark that father and son were like two melons from the same vine. When she talked about Baldy Li, she didn't say this sort of thing but would emphatically shake her head. She said that Baldy Li and his father were completely different sorts of people, on completely different paths. It was not until Baldy Li's fourteenth year, when he was nabbed for peeping at five women’s bottoms in a public pit toilet, that his mother drastically reversed her earlier opinion of her son. Only then did she finally understand that Baldy Li and his father were in fact two melons from the same vine after all. Baldy Li remembered clearly how his mother had averted her eyes and turned away from him, muttering bitterly as she wiped away her tears, A chip off the old block.
Baldy Li had never met his birth father, since on the day he was born his father left this earth in a fit of stink. His mother told him that his father had drowned, but Baldy Li asked, How? Did he drown in the stream, in the pond, or in a well? His mother didn't respond. It was only later, after Baldy Li had been caught peeping and had become stinkingly notorious throughout Liu Town-only then did he learn that he really was another rotten melon off the same damn vine as his father. And it was only then that he learned that his father had also been peeping at women's butts in a latrine when he accidentally fell into the cesspool and drowned. Everyone in Liu Town-men and women, young and old—laughed when they heard about Baldy Li and couldn't stop repeating, A chip off the old block. As sure as a tree grows leaves, if you were from Liu Town, you would have the phrase on your lips; even toddlers who had just learned to speak were gurgling it. People pointed at Baldy Li, whispering to each other and covering their mouths and snickering, but Baldy Li would maintain an innocent expression as he continued on his way. Inside, however, he would be chuckling because now-at that time he was almost fifteen—he finally knew what it was to be a man.
Nowadays the world is filled with women's bare butts shaking hither and thither, on television and in the movies, on VCRs and DVDs, i advertisements and magazines, on the sides of ballpoint pens and cigarette lighters. These include all sorts of butts: imported but
A bestseller in China, Brothers is an epic and wildly unhinged black comedy of modern Chinese society running amok.
Here is China as we've never seen it before, in asweeping, Rabelaisian panorama of forty years of rough-and-rumble Chinese history, from the madness of the Cultural Revolution to the equally rabid madness of extreme materialism. Yu Hua, award-winning author ofTo Live, gives us a surreal tale of two comically mismatched stepbrothers, Baldy Li, a sex-obsessed ne'er-do-well, and the bookish, sensitive Song Gang, who vow that they will always bebrothers--a bond they will struggle to maintain over the years as they weather the ups and downs of rivalry in love and making and losing millions in the new China.
Both tragic andabsurd by turns, Brothers is a fascinating vision of an extraordinary place and time.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Set against the backdrop of a modern-day China caught in the midst of a growing capitalism, Baldy Li, a teenage ne'er-do-well, and Song Gang, his bookish stepbrother, vow to preserve their close relationship despite their personal differences, a vow that is tested by their mutual love for Lin Hong, the most beautiful girl in their village. 25,000 first printing.
About the Author
Yu Hua was born in 1960 in Zhejiang, China. He finished high school during the Cultural Revolution and worked as a dentist for five years before beginning to write in 1983. He has published four novels, six collections of stories, and three essays collections. His work has been translated into French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean. In 2002 Yu Hua became the first Chinese writer to win the prestigious James Joyce Foundation Award. His novel To Live was awarded Italy’s Premio Grinzane Cavour in 1998, and To Live and Chronicle of a Blood Merchant were named two of the last decade’s ten most influential books in China. Yu Hua lives in Beijing.
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