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Wang in Love and Bondage: Three Novellas by Wang Xiaobo [Hardcover]

Wang Xiaobo , Hongling Zhang , Jason Sommer


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Book Description

March 1 2007
The first English translation of work by Wang Xiaobo, one of the most important writers of twentieth-century China.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 155 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (March 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791470652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791470657
  • Product Dimensions: 22.1 x 18.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,159,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Reading popular, irreverent Chinese essayist and novelist Wang, who died in 1997 at 44, can feel like being held upside down—particularly during the zingy sex scenes. Characters cultivate an artful irrelevance to circumvent official stricture, and fail most every time. In the first work, "2015," the narrator's uncle, Wang Er, is a painter without a government permit to paint; his paintings are so stridently fractal that they make people dizzy. Sent for re-education, he readily admits his stupidity, but is undone when a female guard takes a very twisted interest in him. "The Golden Age" concerns another Wang Er: a 21-year-old, well-endowed Beijing student sent to the Yunan countryside during the Mao period. There, he runs off with a married doctor. Told to confess on returning, Wang, ironically, becomes a writer, as his superiors insist on more and more pornographic detail in every revised version of his confessions. The slighter final story, "East Palace, West Palace," relates a story about a policeman who falls in love with a bisexual cross-dresser. Wang's deeply convincing novellas will certainly please the readers who have enjoyed recent Nobel Prize–winner Gao Xingjian's novel, Soul Mountain.(Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Wang (1952-97) has a large following among Chinese university students but isn't at all popular with the literary establishment. Blame the matter and attitude of his work, not its literary merit. China has a history of heavy-handed prudishness that the sex in these three novellas flouts big time. They're wry social-realist exercises demonstrating that in a repressive society, whether of the future, the Cultural Revolution, or post-Mao but still policed 1990s China, sex affords the only excitement worth risking slander or prison for. And if it weren't for imagination, sex might be drab. If the narrator of "2015" weren't obsessed with being an artist, would he so ardently follow his artist uncle's misadventures, which eventuate in being a luscious policewoman's sex toy? If they could redeem their reputations, would the lovers undergoing forcible "re-education" in "The Golden Age" breath so heavily? Would the handsome cop in "East Palace, West Palace" discover his homosexuality if he weren't such a socially determined straight arrow? Not sex but sensation, with the possibility, however slight, of transcendence, becomes the supreme value for these stories' characters--a predicament not unlike that of Jake Barnes and company in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great novelist discovered May 7 2007
By Y. Xia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A poet tells you about himself and a novelist brings knowledge of the world. In Wang's writings we see the absurdity in China under the totalitarian rule from a compeletly different angle - yet how enlightening it is! - that power by its masochist nature has found its sadist victims. Reading through these stories marked by Wang's now famous witty and satire tone, you laugh with heavy sighs yet at same time, strangely, don't feel depressed. Other than the value of love itself Wang has tried to explore in stories like Golden Age, an important reason for this is that he has shown you a way to understand absurdity in life, by his super intelligence and the power of his calm and acute observation. As Kundera once noted: "All we can do in the face of that ineluctable defeat called life is to try to understand it. That is the raison d'être of the art of the novel."

So when we read about Chen Qingyang's laments and her sudden epiphany of "so-called truth" - "The truth is that you can't wake up. That was the moment she finnaly figured out what the world was made of; and the next moment she made up her mind: she stepped forward to accept the torment. She felt unusually happy." Don't we also feel unusually sad and happy at same time? Sad at seeing "that ineluctable defeat" part of life, happy at the final understanding of the absurdity made of her living. That's the enjoyment of reading a good novel.

Hats off to the great translation done by Zhang and Sommers. Wang deserves such a first-class English version for his wonderful work.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful recreation of Wang's masterpieces April 3 2007
By Emily Wu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Congratulations to Hongling Zhang and Jason Sommer for the wonderful recreation of Wang's masterpieces. Highly recommended.
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