Saturday, September 10, 2011


Rarely does a translation do justice to the original text but for Brothers this might have to do.


My Chinese is rusty and not as proficient as I'd like it to be so settling for a translation of this book by Yu Hua will do.

The book has high aspirations to be satire mixed with raunchy comedy and cultural undertones. Chinese as a language does speak a lot of its eloquence through non-verbal lingo so reading this book was a chore but I think I could grasp what it was trying to say.

The story is about half-brothers Song Gang and Baldy Li. Their travails show a back drop of what China went through before and after the Cultural Revolution. The relationship of the two brothers is not all lovey but is filled with bumps and contradictions. They both set out in different paths after falling in love with the same woman, Lin Hong. Song Gang a life of subservience and destitution as he tries to preserve his rustic ideals in a booming economic China. On the other hand Baldy Li, did all he can to become a tycoon in the new China. It is a struggle between old and new and urban and provincial. The winner is not clearly spelled out since both brothers ended up with nothing but each other.

There are several undertones that the story does not tell you outright. The context is very Chinese unwittingly subtle and unobtrusive. Why not figure those out for yourself?

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