The Years, Months, Days

Yan Lianke, trans. from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas. Black Cat, $16 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2665-8
Lianke’s talent for the fantastical shines in this collection of two novellas. In the title piece, an elder stays behind after a long drought drives his fellow village residents to more amiable climates; he claims he’d “surely die of exhaustion” if he joined their pilgrimage. With only his blind dog by his side, and battling both the elements and encroaching wild beasts, the elder toils under the hot sun to survive, nursing a lone corn seedling and devising various schemes to stay alive. “Marrow,” the second novella, features a devoted mother who will stop at nothing to provide her disabled children with happiness. A widow, she speaks to her husband’s ghost as she wheels and deals to land suitors, promising grains and goods to potential mates and leaving herself with little to survive. Though they contain dark subject matter, Lianke’s fables of personal sacrifice are also sharply observed and funny. Lianke’s narratives feel much larger than their page count suggest, almost epic. Agent: Laura Susjin, the Susjin Agency. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2017
Release date: 12/05/2017
Open Ebook - 978-0-8021-8881-6
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