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Desert Rites

by Xue Mo

Publisher: Encyclopedia of China Publishing House

Date Published: 2017/01/05

Price: 0.00

ISBN: 978-7-5000-9992-5

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Desert Rites is the first of a three volume “Desert Series,” set in China’s far West Gansu Province. The series is set in the late twentieth century. Residents in China’s major cities and the coastal provinces are enjoying newfound prosperity after a decade of economic growth, but not the impoverished villagers of Liangzhou. They must eke out a living by training hawks to catch rabbits, hunting foxes for their pelts, and squeezing out meager wheat harvests from largely barren, sandy land. The lives and deaths of the village characters are related in the trials of surviving in this neglected part of China. Two fathers will kill their own children, a young man will die of cancer, a protest against heavy taxes and fees will be staged with no result, and two married women will have extramarital affairs. The desert gives these people life; it also brings death and hardship. Inhospitable conditions compounded by a relentless government tax system comprise the daily realities of the villagers, who often turn to shamans to lessen their suffering and hope in vain to mitigate their problems. Xue Mo writes with compassion and produces a vivid picture of village life in the desert. 

Xue Mo, whose original name is Chen Kaihong, is from Liangzhou in Gansu province in Western China. He is one of China’s top-ranking authors, and is vice chairman of the Gansu Writers Association. The Gansu Provincial Committee has bestowed various titles on him as a cultural scholar, such as “Outstanding Expert on Gansu Province,” “Talented Military Officer of Gansu Province,” “Literary and Artistic Talent of Gansu Province,” “Outstanding Moral and Creative Talent of Gansu Province,” and so on. He was designated by the Chinese Managing Committee for Branding Culture as “one of the top ten figures for 2015 in branding Chinese culture.”

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