New York Times Review on “Brother”, Yu Hua’s New Novel

September 29, 2006 at 9:12 pm (China, Culture)

 

This review has been out for a while.

I prefer Yu Hua’s old novels more than this one. Yu lost his inspiration on the new novel. All he did is repeating himself, in a more grotesque, exaggerated way. It’s understandable that most writers’ creativity could be exhausted. Yu Hua is apparently not among a small group of geniuses.

 

A Portrait of China Running Amok by David Barboza

 

The most talked about novel in China this year is “Brothers,” by Yu Hua, a surreal tale of two stepbrothers coming of age during the economic boom in the 1990’s.

The novel, published in two volumes in 2005 and 2006, has sold nearly one million copies here, a remarkable achievement in a country where book piracy is widespread and novels are easily downloaded free from the Internet.

The China of Mr. Yu’s black comedy is a society in which everyone is scrambling to get rich and con artists abound. Li Guangtou, the younger brother in the novel, becomes famous by creating a beauty pageant for virgins; Song Gang, the older brother, has one of his breasts surgically enlarged to help sell a line of breast-enlargement gels for women in the countryside.

Many critics here have lashed out at Mr. Yu, who has long been one of China’s most respected novelists, for producing what one called a trashy, Hollywood-style portrait of the country.

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