Bolshevik Salute: A Modernist Chinese Novel = [Bu Li]

Wang Meng, Author, Meng Wang, Author, Wendy Larson, Translator University of Washington Press $19.95 (154p) ISBN 978-0-295-96856-8
Although this ``modernist novel'' by China's recently deposed culture minister is fiction, it closely parallels its author's life up to 1979 (when the book was published in China), revealing what it has meant to be a Chinese intellectual during the past 40 years. Like his creator, Zhong Yicheng joins the Communist Party as a teenager before the birth of the P.R.C. He becomes a writer whose early promise is betrayed when he is caught in the madness of the 1957 Anti-Rightist political campaign and is forced to spend the next two decades in manual labor in the Chinese hinterland. Finally, in 1979, Zhong, like Wang, is recalled to intellectual life. Getting into this story, experimental within its context, will require some concentration from readers unfamiliar with recent Chinese political history and literature, although Larson's notes and introduction help. (The essay is too esoteric for a general audience.) But for those who want to grasp intellectually and viscerally what it was like to be young, idealistic, terribly naive and an absolute true believer in Mao's revolution, and to see and feel the unfolding state-sanctioned betrayal of those hopes, this novella repays that effort many times over. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
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