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A Private Life (Weatherhead Books on Asia)

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A Private Life (Weatherhead Books on Asia) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.<P>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. <P>First published in 1996 to widespread critical acclaim, Ran Chen's controversial debut novel is a lyrical meditation on memory, sexuality, femininity, and the oftenarbitrary 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 disso

Review:

"'Sexuality has never been a problem with me. My problem is different. I am a fragment in a fragmented age.' Despite this claim, the protagonist of Ran's unusual coming-of-age novel is defined by her precocious beauty and her struggle to define her sexual identity. Ran, one of China's most acclaimed contemporary women writers, tells how lovely Ni Niuniu is seduced before she enters puberty by an older woman, the sly, wise Widow Ho, then falls into an unwanted affair with her male teacher, Ti. In college, she meets the love of her life, a fellow student named Yin Nan, but their brief, passionate affair ends abruptly when Yin Nan becomes involved in the student protests in Tiananmen Square. Traumatized by the loss of Yin Nan and the deaths of her mother and Widow Ho, Niuniu retreats into her own mind, becoming Miss Nothing ('I no longer exist... I have disappeared...'). Niuniu's flaws, foibles and idiosyncrasies represent fertile ground for Chen's wide-ranging psychological character study. Even the more conventional scenes are narrated with lyrical intensity, and hallucinatory dream sequences and passages describing Niuniu's alienation range from the revelatory to the overwrought. The result is an uneven but intriguing novel that captures the heightened sensibility of a woman who flees the bustling contemporary world for the sensual pleasures of inner space. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780231131964
Translator:
Howard-Gibbon, John
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Translator:
Howard-Gibbon, John
Author:
Chen, Ran
Location:
New York
Subject:
Asian - General
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Series:
Weatherhead Books on Asia
Series Volume:
2001:4
Publication Date:
20040531
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Pages:
214
Dimensions:
8.32x5.80x.78 in. .93 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment

A Private Life (Weatherhead Books on Asia) Used Hardcover
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Product details 214 pages Columbia University Press - English 9780231131964 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'Sexuality has never been a problem with me. My problem is different. I am a fragment in a fragmented age.' Despite this claim, the protagonist of Ran's unusual coming-of-age novel is defined by her precocious beauty and her struggle to define her sexual identity. Ran, one of China's most acclaimed contemporary women writers, tells how lovely Ni Niuniu is seduced before she enters puberty by an older woman, the sly, wise Widow Ho, then falls into an unwanted affair with her male teacher, Ti. In college, she meets the love of her life, a fellow student named Yin Nan, but their brief, passionate affair ends abruptly when Yin Nan becomes involved in the student protests in Tiananmen Square. Traumatized by the loss of Yin Nan and the deaths of her mother and Widow Ho, Niuniu retreats into her own mind, becoming Miss Nothing ('I no longer exist... I have disappeared...'). Niuniu's flaws, foibles and idiosyncrasies represent fertile ground for Chen's wide-ranging psychological character study. Even the more conventional scenes are narrated with lyrical intensity, and hallucinatory dream sequences and passages describing Niuniu's alienation range from the revelatory to the overwrought. The result is an uneven but intriguing novel that captures the heightened sensibility of a woman who flees the bustling contemporary world for the sensual pleasures of inner space. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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