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Chaos and All That

An Irreverent Novel

Liu Sola

Publication Year: 1994

This brilliant little novel, set against the backdrop of post-Mao China, juxtaposes recollections of childhood, pet ownership, and marriage with discussions of art, sex, and murder, weaving together an absurdist tapestry that is the inner life of the novel’s felicitously named protagonist, Huang Haha. Subversive, iconoclastic, and wholly irreverent. Fiction from Modern China

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

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Chapter 1

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pp. 1-18

Why wasn’t I just born an ant? “Oh my God. Will you look at the little mite – her head’s only the size of my fist.” Auntie’s great great grandfather was the great-great grandson of an umpteenth- generation descendant of the Great Sage Confucius, so she was surnamed Kong, like him. She put my very ...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 19-30

The most essential qualification for being a Red Guard was that you had to be able to say to people’s faces the kinds of thing you usually only find written on toilet walls. Mommy said that it was only people from the worst families with the thickest skins that would come out ...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 31-43

Women! What about men? “With a mighty rumble like a peal of thunder, Meng Jiangnü’s tears washed away the Great Wall.” . . . My father bade me take another man, But Ping returned in honor to our home; ...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 44-59

What kind of man was Daddy? Pale, softspoken, not at all like those sleek, well-nourished revolutionary types, always strutting around with their chests out. He was over sixty years old, and he still didn’t have a pot ...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 60-81

“Rejoice in the release of a Directive from On High!” blared the loudspeakers on the street. Boom-boom-ba-boom went the drums. Clang-a-lang-alang went the cymbals. Ba-boom ...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 82-93

One year one of our friends who had nothing better to do took a trip to Hanyao. There she met a monk who advised her, “You should try to be like the good wife Wang Baochuan.” She jokingly brought this advice ...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 94-105

Dear Haha, That story I wrote about my cats has landed me in all sorts of trouble. Now my cats have become celebrities; there are all these reporters who keep coming around and asking me how they are. And then there ...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 106-113

“In this passage, Confucius was just allowing his disciple Zigong to find out for himself if the lady in question was indeed pure, by pretending to make advances to her. Contrary to their expectations she resolutely resisted all advances, causing Confucius to express his admiration ...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 114-122

So why wasn’t I born an ant? “I think you’d better find someone else to be your husband. I don’t see what the big deal is about husbands anyway, but if that’s what you want, you’ll have to find one somewhere else. That’s just not my scene.” Yang Fei never looked up from his painting. We’d been living together for ...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 123-126

Dearest Haha, I came back to China thinking I was going to make a new start, but I don’t know how to begin. . . . People leave, come back, leave again. Xiaobo has given up his inheritance, closed his psychological counseling ...

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Afterword to the English Edition

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pp. 127-

Forget about the distance between China and the rest of the world. Please don’t get upset with the book and ask me if it’s true that the Chinese kill cats and insult each other. And don’t ask me if this is the story of my life. I can tell you this: the Chinese kill everything ...

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Translator’s Postscript

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pp. 129-134

Chaos and All That is the first fiction written in self-imposed exile by the Chinese composer, rock-singer, playwright, actress, and author Liu Sola. It was written in London and completed in the spring of 1989. After several ...


E-ISBN-13: 9780824861803
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824816179

Publication Year: 1994

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Subject Headings

  • China -- History -- Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976 -- Fiction.
  • War stories. -- gsafd.
  • Historical fiction. -- gsafd.
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