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COMPASSION (working title)

Lu Nei

  • Original Title: CIBEI
  • Publication date: January 2016
  • Publisher: People's Literature Publishing
  • Country: CN
  • 231 print pages
  • Experimental

Information

  • Epoch: Mixed
  • Time Period: 20th century, 21th century
  • Location setting: China
  • Themes: FAMILY, Mourning, PEOPLE facing life, Facing failure, PEOPLE facing the extraordinary, Rivalry, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, Poverty, Inequality, Capitalism, Power, Totalitarian regime, Corruption, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Social relations, Social climbing, Friendship

Pitch

A satirical novel with a heart set in China from the 1950s to 2000. Water-Born takes life as it comes, from his childhood encounter with a crazed woman gnawing on a human tibia, to the ruthless corruption of his boss. Along the way, absurd accidents and the system’s petty cruelties combine to trip him up.

Comments

Winner of three prestigious independent literary awards in China, 2016 and 2017.

Lu Nei is a Chinese writer. Two of his novels have appeared in English: SHAONIAN BABILUN (Young Babylon, 2007), and HUA JIE WANGSHI (A Tree Grows in Daicheng, 2011).

Summary

When twelve-year-old Water-Born’s parents starve to death in a famine, he is taken on at a phenol plant. The factory’s rules and restrictions are Orwellian, and there is no compassion for transgressors: Iron-Ox Li is taken away and executed for having an affair with the widow Joy-Girl Wang and paying her in cash handouts from the factory coffers. Root-Born gets ten years for kicking the phenol boiler valve, a sentence which ultimately breaks his body and his spirit. Meanwhile Water-Born rises from apprentice to engineer, marries the daughter of his shifu (the mentor to whom he is apprenticed), and they adopt a child. Then in the 90s the factory is asset-stripped and its workers laid off ― and Water-Born, by now widowed, goes freelance and makes money for the first time in his life. Gritty? Yes. Grim? Far from it. There are moments of sheer comedy, and strands of compassion and warmth run through the novel, seen in Water-Born’s friendships with his fellow workers, and his love for his shifu, his invalid wife and his adopted daughter. In the end, Water-Born, his spirit undimmed, achieves a kind of inner peace, albeit mixed with anger and resignation.

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go further

  • Author’s biography

    Lu Nei is a Chinese writer. Two of his novels have appeared in English: SHAONIAN BABILUN (Young Babylon, 2007), and HUA JIE WANGSHI (A Tree Grows in Daicheng, 2011). Lu Nei has visited the UK (he was Writer of the Month at The Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing in March 2018) and has also appeared at Paris and Frankfurt Book Fairs.