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Boy in the Twilight: Stories of the Hidden Chinaby Yu Hua
Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed author of Brothers and To Live: thirteen audacious stories that resonate with the beauty, grittiness, and exquisite irony of everyday life in China.
Yu Hua’s narrative gifts, populist voice, and inimitable wit have made him one of the most celebrated and best-selling writers in China. These flawlessly crafted stories—unflinching in their honesty, yet balanced with humor and compassion—take us into the small towns and dirt roads that are home to the people who make China run.
In the title story, a shopkeeper confronts a child thief and punishes him without mercy. “Victory” shows a young couple shaken by the husband’s infidelity, scrambling to stake claims to the components of their shared life. “Sweltering Summer” centers on an awkward young man who shrewdly uses the perks of his government position to court two women at once. Other tales show, by turns, two poor factory workers who spoil their only son, a gang of peasants who bully the village orphan, and a spectacular fistfight outside a refinery bathhouse. With sharp language and a keen eye, Yu Hua explores the line between cruelty and warmth on which modern China is—precariously, joyfully—balanced. Taken together, these stories form a timely snapshot of a nation lit with the deep feeling and ready humor that characterize its people. Already a sensation in Asia, certain to win recognition around the world, Yu Hua, in Boy in the Twilight, showcases the peerless gifts of a writer at the top of his form.
"The subtitle of Hua's (To Live: A Novel) collection, 'Stories of the Hidden China,' appears to refer to the China of ordinary people, not that of the new plutocrats, corrupt officials and their spoiled children, or high-profile political artists like Ai Wei Wei. The prolific Hua is interested in unimportant people — mostly men — and the events (sometimes small, sometimes large) that force them to reconsider their situations. In 'Their Son,' a factory worker who frequently finds himself stuck on overcrowded buses finds out that the son he's putting through college casually takes taxis; in 'Why There Was No Music,' a man borrows some videos from a friend only to find out they're homemade; in several stories, men try, with varying results, to escape from their wives, or to cope with bullying and violence. The stories often feel like fables: what's memorable isn't the characters, but their circumstances, like the punishment for theft in the title story, or the running abuse suffered by the protagonist — if that word can be used for someone with so little control over his life — of 'No Name of My Own.' And, like fables, the stories can feel schematic — as in the final revelation in the longest story, 'Timid as a Mouse,' what happens is what needs to happen to make the tale complete, rather than something that reveals the characters' particularities." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From one of China's most celebrated writers: a collection of thirteen audacious and powerful stories that reveal the sorrows, joys, shifts, and constants of everyday life inside this rapidly changing country.
In the masterful hands of Yu Hua, these stories form a timely snapshot of a nation, filled with the deep feeling and inimitable humor that epitomize its people: A shopkeeper confronts a child thief and punishes him without mercy. An awkward young man uses the perks of his government position to court two women at once. A hardworking couple toils all day in factories, only to discover that their college-age son is spending their money on taxi rides. With lucid language and coy wit, each of the stories explores the line between cruelty and warmth on which modern China is—absurdly, joyfully—balanced. Already a sensation in Asia, certain to win recognition around the world, Yu Hua's peerless talent is showcased here in top form.
About the Author
Yu Hua is the author of four novels, six collections of stories, and three collections of essays. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. In 2002, he became the first Chinese writer to win the James Joyce Award. His novel Brothers was short-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize and awarded France's Prix Courrier International. To Live was awarded Italy's Premio Grinzane Cavour, and To Live and Chronicle of a Blood Merchant were ranked among the ten most influential books in China in the 1990s by Wenhui Bao, the largest newspaper in Shanghai.
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