From one of the country's most acclaimed writers, a major new novel that depicts the joys and sorrows of modern China.
Yang Fei was born on a moving train, lost by his mother, adopted by a young railway worker, raised with simplicity and love—utterly unprepared for the changes that await him and his country.
As a young man, he searches for a place to belong in a nation ceaselessly reinventing itself.
At forty-one, he meets an unceremonious death, and lacking the money for a burial plot, must roam the afterworld aimlessly.
There, over the course of seven days, he encounters the souls of people he's lost, and as he retraces the path of his life, we meet an extraordinary cast of characters: his adoptive father, beautiful ex-wife, neighbors who perished in the demolition of their homes.
Vivid, urgent, and panoramic, Yang Fei's passage movingly traces the contours of his vast nation—its absurdities, its sorrows, and its soul.
This searing novel affirms Yu Hua's place as the standard-bearer of Chinese fiction.
- Publication Date:
- 01 / 02 / 2015
- 153 x 234mm
The Seventh Day is the fifth novel by acclaimed Chinese novelist and essayist, Yu Hua. At forty-one, Yang Fei dies in an Eatery explosion, but, having no burial plot, and no-one to buy one for him, he eventually finds himself wandering in a sort of Limbo, the Land of the Unburied. He wears a black armband: he mourns his own death as there is no-one else to do so. As he drifts around the afterlife, he encounters people who look familiar but do not sound like those he knew in life, people now also dead.
He also meets certain people he has heard about, and all have interesting tales to tell. Travelling the path of memory, Fei recalls the story of his birth, his rescue from certain death by Yang Jinbiao, a loving childhood with Jinbiao and close neighbours, meeting his birth mother, his short-lived marriage to the beautiful Qi Ling, Jinbiaoâ€™s illness, departure and Feiâ€™s search for him, and Feiâ€™s own death.
With Feiâ€™s memories and the stories of those he encounters, Yu employs an interesting device for commenting on contemporary China: nominally Communist, yet corruption is rife, classes of society do exist and social injustice abounds. He shows the homeless living in bomb shelters, yet craving iPhone 4s, blogging on QQ, selling kidneys for cash and committing suicide for apparently trivial reasons. While the forced demolitions, threats, payment of hush money, cover-ups, propaganda (like downward estimates of victims and deaths), abuse of privilege, bribery and foetuses regarded as medical waste paint a depressing picture, there are lighter moments.
The absurdities of the cross-dressing prostitute and his arresting policeman, the singing babies, the Eatery in the Land of the Unburied and the courtship of the hairwashers provide a bit of fun, and Feiâ€™s relationship with his adopted father and neighbours is truly uplifting and often transcends the hopelessness in face of tragedy and misfortune. This thought-provoking novel is flawlessly translated from Chinese by Allan H. Barr. Fans of Yu Huaâ€™s earlier work will not be disappointed.