Originally published in 1987, two years before the Tiananmen Square protests, Zhang Wei's award-winning novel is the story of three generations of the Sui, Zhao, and Li families living in the fictional northern town of Wali during China's troubled postliberation years.
Spanning four decades following the creation of the People's Republic in 1949, The Ancient Ship is a bold examination of a society in turmoil, the struggle of oppressed people to control their own fate, and the clash between tradition and modernization. In the course of the narrative, the townspeople of Wali face the moments that have defined China's history during the latter part of the twentieth century: the land reform programs, the famine of 1959-1961, the Great Leap Forward, the Anti-Rightist Campaign, and the Cultural Revolution. Translated into English for the very first time, The Ancient Ship is a revolutionary work of Chinese fiction that speaks to people across the globe.
In his epic novel, originally published in 1987, Zhang explores China's upheaval in the decades after the creation of the People's Republic in 1949. At the heart of the story are the three major families in the small town of Wali. The Sui family was among the wealthiest until political change left them with little more than grief and anger. The Zhao clan, on the other hand, rose to power during the revolution's violence, some of which the clan helped direct at the Suis. The Li clan, known for eccentricities, pushed the town toward industrialization. As the nonlinear narrative spirals backwards and forwards through time, the disturbing details of Wali's history are unearthed, including graphic descriptions of the cruel punishments meted out in the name of reform (and revenge). In Zhang's capable hands, Wali becomes a microcosm of the turmoil China underwent during the pivotal political and cultural moments of the 20th century. Written two years before the Tiananmen Square protests, this multilayered historical tale of remembrance, accountability and the role stories play in people's lives is a powerful one. (Aug.)
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August 18, 2008
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