Nonfiction — 3 Min Read

China in ten words – Yu Hua

Nonfiction — 3 Min Read

China in ten words – Yu Hua

China. People. The Cultural Revolution. Leader. The Cultural Revolution. Reading. Mao Ze Dung. Written. Lu Xun. The Cultural Revolution. Gaps. Revolution. The grassroots. Imitations. Bluff.

How can you summarize a country’s half-century history in 300 pages?

How can you capture the ruin, anxieties, and struggles of a people in the mirage of utopian political ideologies?

A country trapped between traditions, communism, and capitalism.

A country where dissent is paid expensively.

A country where the Great Leap Forward destroyed the organic fabric of relationships and resulted in a failure that killed more than 30 million people.

“When I think today how it was before, I’m experiencing all sorts of feelings. The thirty years since more than three hundred people sat in line at the library’s door in the city to get card coupons and the sale of a ten-yuan classical book tie to the Ditan Fair seemed to have been one night. This is the moment when I left on the real journey of reading literary works; the journey began that morning in the bookstore in 1977, and of course it did not end in the cries of Ditan Park booksellers.”

-quoted from China in ten words, by Yu Hua

Nation.Leader. Reading. Written. Lu Xun. Gap. Revolution. The grassroots. Imitation. Bluff.

Yu Hua manages to answer these questions with these ten words. An exercise which few manage to achieve. Through this book, Yu Hua finds the soul of a country. He succeeds in casting a critical look beyond propaganda, ideologies, and reaching the pits that ultimately make history-the common people.

China in ten words has a few colours. Grey tones track you on every page: whether they are discussing Mao’s Revolution, the contemporary economic boom, or Western influence on China.

Yu Hua’s writing is simple, sincere, comical and tragic at the same time. The ten essays are somewhere between journalism and memoirs. It is approaching the New Journalism style of the 1970s, with Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, and Norman Mailer as the main exponents of the genre.

“I finally understood what the “people” meant. I think that writing can help man to remain mentally healthy and to complete his life. In other words, writing makes a man have two paths in his life – one real and another virtual – and the relationship between the two is that of health and sickness – when one becomes too strong, the other begins to decay. As my real life becomes more and more monotonous, the other life becomes richer.”

-quoted from China in ten words, by Yu Hua

About Yu Hua

YU HUA was born in 1960 in the city of Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, in a family of doctors. He was a dentist for five years, a profession he abandoned in favor of writing because “he didn’t like looking into people’s mouths all day.” His childhood was strongly marked by the Cultural Revolution, a fact that left deep traces on his writing. He debuted in 1984 with a short story and quickly established himself among the most acclaimed short prose authors of his generation. At the beginning of the 90s, Yu Hua gradually gave up his initial experimentalism and devoted himself to the novel, publishing: Cries in the Rain (Zai xiyu zhong hughan, 1991), In Life (Huozhe, 1993; Humanitas Fiction, 2016), Chronicle of a Blood Merchant (Xu Sanguan mai xue ji, 1998; Humanitas Fiction, 2017), Brothers (Xiongdi, 2008), Seventh Day (Di qi tian, 2013). In addition to novels, he published six volumes of stories and five volumes of essays, among which the volume China in ten words (Shi ge cihui li de Zhongguo, 2011; Humanitas, 2018) stands out. Yu Hua is the first Chinese writer to be awarded the James Joyce Award (2002). Several national and international awards, titles and distinctions have been awarded to him over time: Premio Grinzane Cavour (1998), Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2004), Barnes & Noble Discovery Great New Writers Award (2004), Award for outstanding contributions to the field of books (China, 2005), Prix Courrier International du Meilleur livre étranger (2008). His books have been translated into over thirty languages. Currently, Yu Hua lives in Beijing, and articles signed by him appear in The New York Times.