BT-Chinese Western

Hung Chu, Other Ballantine Books $5.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-345-35140-1
The Chinese Cultural Revolution lasted from 1966 to 1976, and reactions to it have dominated Chinese writing since. The so-called ``Chinese Western'' examines the impact of the Revolution on impoverished, isolated western China, regions profoundly entrenched in tradition. Each of the eight stylistically varied stories selected by Zhu Hong, a professor of American literature in Beijing who has also taught at Harvard, illuminates the bewilderment and undeniable courage of a people confronted by monumental change. In Jia Pingwua's nearly mythic ``How Much Can a Man Bear?'' the injustices of the Cultural Revolution are only a politicized form of existing enslavement: `` `Let me tell you,' '' says a husband to his wife, `` `living, your body belongs to me, and dead, your ghost is mine!' '' The urban student who narrates Zhu Xiaoping's ``Chronicle of Mulberry Tree Village'' observes a destitute rural village to which he has been sent for reeducation and concludes that its guileful inhabitants elude his ability to judge them. Wang Meng's ``Anecdotes of Chairman Maimaiti'' counters suffering with black humor; a failed author sentenced to labor ``with writers he envied'' jokes with them after Red Guards assault him for being an ``evil liberal writer'': `` `Who cares if you folks don't give me recognition! The people consider me a writer!' '' One wishes stories by women had also been included, but with novel subjects, richly evoked settings and vivid, often poignant characterizations, this collection has wide appeal. (August)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
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