Suffering through the flu this week, I have managed to read four books, all in translation. Perhaps the weekend will allow me time to write about them, but for now, let me offer you a chance to win a new copy of the Chinese bestseller, Brothers by Yu Hua. Courtesy of Random House. Just comment below by the end of the day Monday, February 23. Random draw will decide the winner of this massive tome. Start the arm curls now if you want to prep to read this one.
There are details of the text and links to reviews on the Lost in Translation reading challenge dedicated page, but perhaps the most interesting story here is the division among readers and critics over the quality of this book. Is it a masterpiece of social satire, dissecting the ridiculous in Chinese culture post Cultural Revolution? Comparable (see NY Times) to Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities? Comparable to the social satire of Charles Dickens? Or, conversely, is this a crass exercise of a well known author pandering to the absurdist tastes of the masses to sell books? How can golden toilets, public masturbation, and voyeurism be the jumping off points to literary greatness? Frenzied popular tripe or an appropriately absurd reaction to social, cultural, and political change post-Mao? I think you should read it to decide for yourself.
If you are participating in the Lost in Translation challenge, this would be a timely and interesting choice for those of you trying to pull away from your usual Western choices. If you are not participating, it is never too late to join. Six books in translation in 2009. Simple, fun. Share your reviews with others through links and guest posts. Think about it?