China in Ten Words

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While most would find it difficult to describe what they want for lunch in ten words, it seems to be enough for renowned author Yu Hua to describe a nation. As one of China’s most eminent authors, “China in Ten Words” serves as Yu Hua’s first work of nonfiction to be published in English. Through this work, Hua has forged a dynamic narrative that provides an insight into modern China through the breakdown of ten words: people, leader, reading, writing, Lu Xun, disparity, revolution, grassroots, copycat and bamboozle. Throughout the novel Hua’s biting banter and sophisticated foresight is heavily noted as he goes in depth to characterize each of the ten words. Through the book’s ten chapters, Hua sheds light upon everyday life in China over recent decades, including the disturbance of the current economic phenomenon. Hua conjointly illustrates his own personal account of the coercive years of the Cultural Revolution, while ultimately providing a forewarning of widespread social discontent with dangerously infectious abilities. “China in Ten Words” undeniably exhibits the passion of the Chinese in a deeply intimate yet ominous manner. Hua directs readers along a progressive path, touching upon stepping-stones such as economics, politics, societal concepts and history. Such fields are meant to serve Hua’s ultimate objective to “clear a path through the social complexities and staggering contrasts of contemporary China.” It would not be far fetched to declare Hua remotely successful in hitting his target, although China remains a collaboration of successes and failures that arguably could use an additional word or two to address. However, there is no denying Yu Hua has stimulated the minds of reader’s, encouraging profou... ... middle of paper ... ...cts of earlier years have a faint presence in modern times, the disparities among wealth and social injustice have become more evident. “China in Ten Words” is notably striking on many fronts. From one of China’s most acclaimed writers, Yu Hua fearlessly addresses forbidden subjects all the while stringing together past and present China. It is an intimate and unique look at the Chinese experience over the last forty years. Connections between Cultural Revolution China and Market-Driven China are made, as each topic is lightened with traces of his wit and humorous tones. However, it cannot be denied that even with Hua’s banter, some realities cannot help but remain bleak. Through personal encounters and insightful analysis, layers of China are revealed one by one. Word by word Hua exposes the unexposed, taking the reality of China’s past and present head on.

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