Yan Lianke: 堅硬如水 (Hard Like Water)

The latest addition to my website is Yan Lianke‘s 堅硬如水 (Hard Like Water). This story is set primarily in the village of Chenggang during the Cultural Revolution but this is not a serious Cultural Revolution novel but a mocking satire of it. Our hero, Gao Aijun, married with two children, meets Hongmei and decided he wants two things: mad passionate sex with her and, also with her, to bring revolution to their village. Inevitably there are stumbling blocks – from their respective spouses, from the old guard and from those who are less than enthusiastic about the idea of revolution. The fact that, at the beginning of the book, he seems to be about to be executed, shows that things do not go smoothly on either count. However, in its mocking of Mao, revolutionary and sexual fervour, often commingled, and the resistance of the old guard and peasants to change, it is a very funny novel.

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