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ChouDoufu

Modern Novels: Are they worth the read?

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ChouDoufu

I recently tried to get into more Chinese modern novels (current novels--present day novels); taking a look at a 美女作家, and specifically 卫慧's《上海宝贝》。 But after talking to (SMSing) some of my Chinese friends, I found that few had read it and fewer still had liked it. One of my friends (a teacher in her late 20's...) indicated she didn't like most of these modern novels. I started thinking about the worth of these novels. Perhaps 《上海宝贝》is not a work that the average chinese can accept because it's so far removed from their world, society and culture. That it's written by a Chinese person sort of adds to the offence. The means that this book is probably read by Chinese people like those depicted in the novel and by westerners who snap up anything that says "Banned in CHina". While Chinese people will talk about it, most won't actually read it. So are these books worth reading?

 the books my friend recommended: 石康的《晃晃悠悠》和余华的书。 anyone read them? any other recommendations?

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skylee

I have read 上海寶貝, and it is now lying in my recycle shelf waiting to be thrown away.

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BeijingSlacker

Personally, I think 上海宝贝 is just a piece of crap. I tried to read it (didnt finish) when I was on a train. Its superficial and boring as hell.

晃晃悠悠 is really good, although I doubt you would fully understand it. Its really funny, but very touching in the end. Its written by 石康, one of my favorites. Some say its the Chinese version of The Catcher in the Rye, which I found not as good as 晃晃悠悠。

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Yang Rui

Of course some modern novels are worth the read, though it depends what your motivation is for reading them (ie entertainment or self-betterment?).

Slacker mentioned Catcher in the Rye. The author Li Shijiang 李师江 's stuff is a bit similar. He's quite new i think, and his titles include 他们都挺棒的、肉 and 畜牲级男人。 I've read the latter, and it's funny, entertaining and full of useful colloqialisms. He talks about his life bumming around Beijing and trying to get his work published, and his encounters with women (mostly ending in failure), annoying bosses, randy neighbours, and the mafia. He's quite cynical, and i like the book because it deals wittily with the daily frustrations that Chinese people have to put up with. Some people might think it's "worthless" though, because it's not very literary.

As for 余华,i would definitely recommend his work. 活着 was turned into a film by Zhang Yimou, and it's an ok medium-length novel. I think his short stories are excellent, especially 现实一种,which is very subversive and disturbing. His work is much discussed, and of literary value, AND it's written in fairly simple Chinese. What more could you want?

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