Serve the People!: A Novel

Serve the People!: A Novel

Language: English

Pages: 217

ISBN: 0802170447

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Set in 1967, at the peak of the Mao cult, Serve the People! is a beautifully told, wickedly daring story about the forbidden love affair between Liu Lian, the young, pretty wife of a powerful Division Commander in Communist China, and her household’s lowly servant, Wu Dawang. When Liu Lian establishes a rule for her orderly that he is to attend to her needs whenever the household’s wooden Serve the People! sign is removed from its usual place, the orderly vows to obey. What follows is a remarkable love story and a profound and deliciously comic satire on Mao’s famous slogan and the political and sexual taboos of his regime. As life is breathed into the illicit sexual affair, Yan Lianke brilliantly captures how the Model Soldier Wu Dawang becomes an eager collaborator with the restless and demanding Liu Lian, their actions inspired by primitive passions that they are only just discovering. Originally banned in China, and the first work from Yan Lianke to be translated into English, Serve the People! brings us the debut of one of the most important authors writing from inside China today.

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Division hospital.' 'No, there's no need for that. Just carry me to the bed and go on kissing me, touching me whereveryou want. Forget I'm the Division Commander's wifefor the time being I'm your wife and you can have free run of me.' He lifted her weak, limp form onto the bed, as one would put a baby down to sleep, then began kissing her with a crazed intensity, every tiny part of her, from her hair, forehead and nose downward -now delicately, like a dragonfly skimming the surface of a lake,

Its gongs, drums and more exotic musical instruments (an exultant French horn, a dazzling bronze flute and a set of huge scarlet timpani, wheeled out only for the promulgation of Chairman Mao's highest directives, for important conferences in Beijing or for great matters of state) were all deathly silent. Even if the gate was thrown open and the drums brought back to life, much of the noise would have been muffled by its thick red-brick walls; only a faint, indistinct rumble would disturb the

'I'm cold.' 'Are you going to get dressed?' 'I'd rather die.' So what's to be done?' She picked up the Serve the People! sign from the table. He walked over and swept her up in his arms, as one would an exhausted child, then climbed slowly upstairs to the bedroom. The sound of his footsteps on the stairs, crunching the debris of their afternoon's work, echoed through the house like a wooden mallet striking a great empty drum. THAT NIGHT, REINVIGORATED BY THE chaos they had created,

scripted and directed from behind the scenes, in which his only freedom had been whether or not to engage emotionally with the role he had been cast in. As his suspicions grew, he could feel the intensity of his feelings waning, but he was still unwilling to acknowledge the absence of any real emotional honesty in his relationship with Liu Lian. Nor could he replace his fairytale memories of their affair with hardheaded contemplation of how it might relate to the way the Division was being

mirror, it was a change in her countenance a faint, trembling resurgence of colour-that fully alerted Wu Dawang to what he'd) ust done. Her face had a slightly dazed look, as if she'd just woken from a dream, while the two curves of her shoulders registered a delicate tremor, like two large apples hanging in the gentlest of breezes. Watching her turn gently around on her stool, he finally became unmistakably aware that those two momentous syllables had slipped out from between his lips.This one

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