Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

The Fat Years, by Chan Koonchung

This is a fascinating book, by a writer who was born in Shanghai, educated in Hong Kong and now lives in Beijing. The book itself has been published in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but is not officially available on the mainland (though a fascinating foreword by Julia Lovell refers to Beijing's "chic party-hostesses slipp[ing] copies of the book into guests’ take-home bags"). It came out in 2009 and is set in the very near future of 2013, after a further financial crisis has wrecked the world economy apart from China, which has now become Top Nation, and yet everyone - or all but a very few - appears to have completely forgotten the crucial month of February 2011, in which the world changed. 

There's a lot in here, including Christianity as a weird foreign religion, state drugging of the population a la Blake's 7, and using sfnal themes as a metaphor for the erasure of June 1989 from official memory; I can see why official China may feel it cuts a bit close to the bone - the protagonist, contrasting the West and China, suggests that:
The only disparity is that, theoretically, the power of Western governments is given to them by the people, while in China the people’s freedom is given to them by the government. Is this distinction really that important?
Readers may give their own answer to the question, taking into account when and where the book was written and published.

Anyway, I now appreciate the depth of my own ignorance about China even more.
Tags: bookblog 2014, world: china
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