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Hua, Yu. To live, a novel.

Tr. by Michael Berry. Random House, Anchor. 250p. c1993. 1-4000-3186-9. $13.00. SA

Using the device of an unnamed boy narrator sent to collect folk, songs from the Chinese countryside, this novel actually tells the heartrending story of a privileged son, Fugui, who gambles away his family's fortune and proceeds to live a Jonah-like life in mid-20th-century China. He and his family survive civil war, famine, and the Cultural Revolution and, throughout it all, Fugui maintains a love of life that is uplifting without ever becoming saccharine or unbelievable. To Live is an epic tale of a life lived in alternating spurts of happiness and despair and the indefatigable life force that drives the protagonist. This work manages to convey strong emotions using deceptively simple language and readers should be warned that the spirit of this book lingers long after finishing the last page. To Live offers a rich cultural perspective about rural China that would be beneficial to understanding the social history of the 20th century for this region.

An informative afterword tells the story of author Yu Hua, who began writing in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. To Live is the first of a projected trilogy written in 1992; it was made into a film in 1994. The film received much critical acclaim but also a lot of unwanted attention from the Chinese government, which banned the work. Courtney Lewis, Libn., Wyoming Seminary Sch., Kingston, PA

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

A--Recommended for advanced students and adults. This code will help librarians and teachers working in high schools where there are honors and advanced placement students. This also will help extend KLIATT's usefulness in public libraries.
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Author:Lewis, Courtney
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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