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Han Dong & Nicky Harman (trans.)

Publication Year: 2009

It is 1969 and China is in the throes of the Cultural Revolution. The Tao family is banished to the countryside, forced to leave comfortable lives in Nanjing to be reeducated in the true nature of the revolution by the peasants of Sanyu village. The parents face exile with stoicism and teach their son to embrace reeducation wholeheartedly. Is this simple pragmatism, an attempt to protect the boy and ensure his future? Or do the banished cadres really cling to their belief in their leaders and the ideals of the Revolution? These questions remain tantalizingly unanswered in this prize-winning first novel.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. v

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Translator's Preface

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pp. vii-viii

In 1966, Mao Zedong, declaring that economic and political stability was corrupting the Communist Party's revolutionary spirit and increasing bourgeois elitism, organized a mass youth militia, the Red Guards, to seize control of the state and party apparatus. Thus began the Cultural Revolution, or "CultRev."1 The Communist Party Central Committee was replaced with the Cultural Revolution Committee...

Notes on Translation

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pp. ix-x

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1. Banishment

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pp. 1-19

In November 1969 the Tao family was banished, and Tao took them all to Sanyu village. Before their departure, Tao had drawn a circle on a map in red crayon. The place he had circled was a rag-shaped lake. "This is Hongze Lake, the third largest freshwater lake in China. That's where we're going," Tao said...

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2. The Enclosure

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pp. 20-43

The Taos lived in the cowshed for nearly a year and began building a new home the next autumn. The project had been in the planning for some time. There was to be no skimping since, as Tao put it, they were to "dig in" here for many generations. But just what kind of a house was this going to...

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3. Young Tao

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pp. 44-62

Young Tao was born during the Three Years of Famine, when the Taos had no meat to eat. To buy meat you needed coupons. Each person got one coupon a month, and that would buy two ounces of meat. The Taos were a family of four, so they could buy eight ounces of meat per month. They saved up their...

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4. Primary School

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pp. 63-76

Young Tao had reached the third year of primary school before the family's banishment to the countryside, but Sanyu's primary school only had two classes, the first and second years. So it was not really a primary school, only half of one, or rather less than half of one since primary school then consisted of five years. After the second year students had...

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5. Animals

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pp. 77-99

Young Tao had several dogs during his time at Sanyu. The first was Patch. Patch's mother was L

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6. The Farm Tools Factory

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pp. 100-116

It was in Patch's time that the One Strike, Three Antis campaign was launched. Su Qun was selected to join the commune propaganda team, and with another banished cadre, she moved to the farm tools factory in the town of Wangji Market. She cycled between Wangji Market and Sanyu on her Flying Pigeon bicycle, bringing things for the house...

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7. Zhao Ningsheng

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pp. 117-128

Young Tao was by now old enough to understand what his parents wanted for him. He did not play with the pigherding children anymore and would just say hello—even to September, Little Dick, and their friends—if he saw them. Even if he had wanted to play with them, there was no time. Early every day, he left for Gezhuang Primary with his school bag over his shoulders, and...

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8. The Cleaning Bug

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pp. 129-141

Grandpa Tao, Tao Wenjiang, was the oldest in the family. He was sixty-nine the year they arrived in Sanyu (or seventy, the way country folk calculated it). He was also the tallest, at nearly five feet nine inches, and held himself ramrod straight. He had a full head of completely white hair, which was combed carefully back. Taciturn...

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9. "516"

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pp. 142-165

One day when Grandpa Tao was waiting for Su Qun on the Yanma River embankment, a stranger approached him and asked the way to the Taos. Tall and thin and dressed in a Sun Yat-sen jacket that was much too big for him, he moved almost soundlessly...

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10. Rich Peasants

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pp. 166-180

The 516 investigation group did not come for Su Qun, but Tao got a visit from a party comrade. The man, wearing a polyester twill Sun Yat-sen suit and carrying a black briefcase, arrived with Yu the Sanyu brigade party secretary and Yu the Sanyu Number 1 Production Team leader. The family went outside and left them to their conversation. After a short while, the comrade...

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11. Striking Root

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pp. 181-197

Yu Youfu was the poorest of the poor in Sanyu Village, apart from those men who could not afford a wife. Youfu did have a wife, and a son too. Their thatched, three-room house stood on its own to the west of the village. Just like those of the other villagers, their house was bordered on all sides by a stream. And...

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12. The Author

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pp. 198-226

Tao wrote and published stories all his life, but the only book of his that was published was the Collected Works of Tao Peiyi. Tao himself never even saw this book, with its black cover and flame design in the top left-hand corner. Its publication was arranged after his death by the Writers Association...

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13. Conclusion

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pp. 227-240

But had Tao not wanted to strike root in Hongze? The decision, however, was no longer up to him. He was now extremely feeble. Su Qun felt that he would get better medical treatment in Nanjing, so in spite of his protests she decided that they should move. Tao was transferred from Hongze Hospital directly to Nanjing Provincial...


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pp. 241-245

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Han Dong and the World of Chinese Literature

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pp. 247-250

Han Dong, born in 1961 in Nanjing, has been a major player on the modern Chinese literary scene since the 1990s. He is known primarily as one of China's most important avant-garde poets, one of the "Misty" group, and has for many years contributed to "unofficial" poetry journals, including Today and Them, which he edited. He is also an essayist, short story writer, and novelist...

E-ISBN-13: 9780824861551
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824832629

Publication Year: 2009