Chinese New Year's Day is the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. But the date is different each year on the Gregorian (internationally-used) calendar, between January 21th and February 20th. In 2016 it's Monday February 8th. For more, see HERE.
In the spirit of Chinese New Year, here are some of the most recommended Chinese books in the English language that appear on most must-read books. Of course do feel free to share titles you've read and tell us why you liked them in the comments section below...
'DREAM OF DING VILLAGE' BY YAN LIANKE
Told through the eyes of Xiao Qiang, a young boy killed by his family's neighbours, this seminal novel tells the tragic and shocking story of the blood-contamination scandal in China's Henan province. Villagers, coerced into selling vast quantities of blood for money, are infected with the AIDS virus when they're injected with plasma to prevent the onset of anaemia. Whole villages are wiped out as the sickness spreads, but no one takes responsibility for the epidemic and nothing is done to care for those left behind. As Xiao tells of the fate of his village, his family is torn apart by suspicion and retribution.
This searing novel relates the tragedy of one village among many and the absurdity of a situation caused and perpetuated by the Chinese government. With black humour and biting satire, Yan Lianke's novel is a powerful allegory of the moral vacuum at the heart of Communist China, tracing the relentless destruction of a community. 'I come from the bottom of society. All my relatives live in Henan, one of the poorest areas of China. When I think of people's situation there, it is impossible not to feel angry and emotional. Anger and passion are the soul of my work.' Yan Lianke
'RED SORGHUM' BY MO YAN
Spanning three generations, this novel of family and myth is told through a series of flashbacks that depict events of staggering horror set against a landscape of gemlike beauty as the Chinese battle both the Japanese invaders and each other in the turbulent 1930s.
As the novel opens, a group of villagers, led by Commander Yu, the narrator's grandfather, prepare to attack the advancing Japanese. Yu sends his 14-year-old son back home to get food for his men; but as Yu's wife returns through the sorghum fields with the food, the Japanese start firing and she is killed.
Her death becomes the thread that links the past to the present and the narrator moves back and forth recording the war's progress, the fighting between the Chinese warlords and his family's history.
'TO LIVE' BY YU HUA
An award-winning, internationally acclaimed Chinese bestseller, originally banned in China but recently named one of the last decade's ten most influential books there, 'To Live' tells the epic story of one man's transformation from the spoiled son of a rich landlord to an honourable and kindhearted peasant.
After squandering his family's fortune in gambling dens and brothels, the young, deeply penitent Fugui settles down to do the honest work of a farmer. Forced by the Nationalist Army to leave behind his family, he witnesses the horrors and privations of the Civil War, only to return years later to face a string of hardships brought on by the ravages of the Cultural Revolution. Left with an ox as the companion of his final years, Fugui stands as a model of flinty authenticity, buoyed by his appreciation for life in this narrative of humbling power.
'THE STORY OF THE STONE', VOLUME 1 - BY CAO XUEQIN
'The Story of the Stone' (c.1760) is one of the greatest novels of Chinese literature. The first part of the story, 'The Golden Days', begins the tale of Bao-yu, a gentle young boy who prefers girls to Confucian studies, and his two cousins: Bao-chai, his parents' choice of a wife for him, and the ethereal beauty Dai-yu.
Through the changing fortunes of the Jia family, this rich, magical work sets worldly events - love affairs, sibling rivalries, political intrigues, even murder - within the context of the Buddhist understanding that earthly existence is an illusion and karma determines the shape of our lives.
There are three other volumes that follow this one.
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