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The Lone Apothecary

by Zhang Wei

Publisher: People’s Literature Publishing House

Date Published: 2016/06/02

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ISBN: 978-7-020-11522-8

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The narrative of The Lone Apothecary, a novel brimming with symbol and metaphor, is laced with explosive revelations and plot twists, conveying the unique force of its language, reality and history to the reader.The book is set at the turn of the twentieth century, a time when China is engulfed in unprecedented chaos. Christianity is encroaching on the east coast of the country, where missionary schools and western hospitals are starting to spring up. For centuries, the aristocratic Li clan has devoted itself to maintaining the arts of healing and longevity, and Li Zuowei – the novel’s eponymous apothecary – is the sixth generation to have upheld the family tradition. Now he finds himself caught between the revolution that is shaking the Shandong peninsula, his duty to his vocation, and his own desires. The secret arts of the healer, passed down from generation to generation, provide the texture to The Lone Apothecary’s historical tapestry. This taut and concise generation saga marks a departure from Zhang Wei’s earlier works, which tended more towards the allegorical and philosophical; since its publication in May 2016 it has been met with an enthusiastic response from readers and critics, who have heralded the book as a rare work of dazzling and transformative power.

Born in 1956 in a small seaside town of eastern China, Zhang Wei has published ten novels, over a dozen novellas and numerous short stories, essays and poems. He graduated from the Chinese Department at Yantai Normal College in 1980. He began publishing poetry in 1975, and published his first novel in 1980. He has won more than thirty important national and international literary prizes and is regarded as one of the most important Chinese writers of the 1990s. Zhang Wei’s works have been translated into English, Japanese, French, Korean and German. Over two hundred editions have been published in China and overseas.

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