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Old Man

by Jia Pingwa

Publisher: People's Literature Publishing House

Date Published: 2015/08/18

Price: 22.32

ISBN: 9787020105960

Contact: Lu Nan

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Email: lulu.white@hotmail.com

Set in a small village in southern Shaanxi Province, this story follows the life of an old man (Lao Sheng)- a funeral singer- who has lived through the entire 20th century and witnesses life and death in the village. Each chapter starts by quoting and interpreting the Book of Mountains and Seas, an ancient classic on Chinese geography and fauna. Jia Pingwa wants to do the same thing with this novel: tell the stories of the land and the people whose fates are deeply rooted in this land. As the narrator of the novel, Lao Sheng gives us four stories, covering revolution, agrarian reform, the Cultural Revolution, and economic development. Each story takes place in a different era; together, the novel is an honest account of the basic social issues China faced in the last century.

Jia Pingwa is the last of China’s contemporary literary greats to be discovered in English. His influence and reputation within China is on par with that of Mo Yan, Yu Hua, and Su Tong: he is a regular recipient of most of the country’s top prizes for literature, and each of his books is eagerly anticipated by readers, critics, and journalists. Though the English translation of his novel Turbulence won the Pegasus Prize for Literature in 1991, he is better known in other languages, particularly French. His use of Xi’an and its surrounding countryside as a setting through which to examine China’s rural/urban divide gives his works a depth and relevance beyond the spectacle of development limited to Beijing and Shanghai.

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