From one of China’s most famous contemporary writers, whose celebrated novel To Live catapulted him to international fame, here is a stunning collection of stories, selected from the best of Yu Hua’s early work, that shows his far-reaching influence on a pivotal period in Chinese literature.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Yu Hua and other young Chinese writers began to reimagine their national literature. Departing from conventional realism in favor of a more surreal and subjective approach inspired by Kafka, Faulkner, and Borges, the boundary-pushing fiction of this period reflected the momentous cultural changes sweeping the world’s most populous nation.
The stories collected here demonstrate Yu Hua masterfully guiding us from one fractured reality to another. “A History of Two People” traces the paths of a man and a woman who dream in parallel throughout their lives. “In Memory of Miss Willow Yang” weaves a spellbinding web of signs and symbols. “As the North Wind Howled” carries a case of mistaken identity to absurd and hilarious conclusions. And the title story follows an unforgettable narrator determined to unearth a conspiracy against him that may not exist. By turns daring, darkly comic, thought-provoking, and profound, The April 3rd Incident is an extraordinary record of a singular moment in Chinese letters.
“Brilliant.... Daring.... Yu Hua’s early writing has often been compared to the works of Kafka, a natural parallel, considering the sharp feeling of restlessness in Yu Hua’s prose and its repertoire of lonely, alienated protagonists. It would be just as easy, however, to think of such writers as Kawabata, Barthelme, or Borges in comparison. More important is the overall impression that Yu Hua is jumping, even clawing, at postmodernism. This spate of early stories shows a writer determined to make a name for himself.” (Andrew Hungate, Words Without Borders)
“The April 3rd Incident reinforces Yu as China’s boldest and smartest literary agent provocateur. The world has never needed him more...Yu’s stories gain their considerable power by making us feel the disturbances they narrate - be they personal, political, historical or natural. His jagged forms command our attention.... Yu is a master of paranoia, evoking both its proximity to comedy and its darker undertones.... Epic.... Deeply moving.” (James Kidd, The South China Morning Post)
“Playful.... A volume of wry short stories sheds light on the author’s early career.... Renmin, or people, lie at the heart of this collection.... The new individuality exhibited by [Yu’s] often alienated characters reveals a struggle to adapt to a country transforming.” (Zoë Apostolides, Financial Times)