From the daring imagination of one of China’s greatest living novelists comes a work of startling power and originality–the story of a young man “displaced” to a small village in rural China during the 1960s. Told in the format of a dictionary, with a series of vignettes disguised as entries, A Dictionary of Maqiao is a novel of bold invention–and a fascinating, comic, deeply moving journey through the dark heart of the Cultural Revolution.
Entries trace the wisdom and absurdities of Maqiao: the petty squabbles, family grudges, poverty, infidelities, fantasies, lunatics, bullies, superstitions, and especially the odd logic in their use of language–where the word for “beginning” is the same as the word for “end”; “little big brother” means older sister; to be “scientific” means to be lazy; and “streetsickness” is a disease afflicting villagers visiting urban areas. Filled with colorful characters–from a weeping ox to a man so poisonous that snakes die when they bite him–A Dictionary of Maqiao is both an important work of Chinese literature and a probing inquiry into the extraordinary power of language.
About the Author
Han Shaogong is an award-winning novelist, essayist, and translator. He is author of "Moon Orchid" (1985), "Bababa" (1985), "Womanwomanwoman" (1985), and "Deserted City" (1989). He is also former editor of the magazines "Hainan Review" and "Frontiers," and is vice-chairman of the Hainan Writer's Association.
Zhu Wen became a full-time writer in 1994 after working for five years in a thermal power plant. His work has been published in mainland China's most prestigious literary magazines, and he has produced several poetry and short story collections and one novel. He has also directed four films, including "Seafood," which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Venice Film Festival, and "South of the Clouds," which won the NETPAC Prize at the 2004 Berlin Festival. He lives in Beijing.
Julia Lovell is a translator and critic of modern Chinese literature and a research fellow at Queens' College, Cambridge.