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Panic and Deaf

Two Modern Satires

James O. Belcher

Publication Year: 2001

Educated Youth. The Lost Generation. They served Mao’s Cultural Revolution as Red Guards in the late 1960s, only to be sacrificed to that same revolution a decade later when they were rusticated to desolate communes and the wastelands of northern China. When they were allowed to return to the cities, they found themselves dislocated once again, this time by the social and economic upheavals of the post-Mao era. A former Red Guard and one of China’s most accomplished satirists, Liang Xiaosheng follows his compatriots as they make their way through the morass of petty corruption, bureaucratic back-biting, and opportunism that is the new New China. In a tone deceptively light and humorous, Liang expresses the financial and sexual frustration, pathetic mediocrity, and impotent resentment of aging “educated youth” trapped in a public sector rendered increasingly superfluous by the brash econonic dynamism of China’s new entrepreneurial class. Mordant and absurdist touches abound in Panic, a hilarious, often heartrending comedy of manners from China’s Roaring Nineties. Liang depicts modern, dysfunctional man as being hopelessly badgered by hypercapitalist performance ratings while Marx and Lenin look on. Deaf, likewise, is high comedy, spinning multiple allegories of truth, faith, and the human condition. Fluently and gracefully translated, these two stories capture the spiritual chaos of today’s China, a place as far removed from the exotic Qing Dynasty court as it is from the political and social turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. Fiction from Modern China.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

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Panic

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pp. 3-102

Mondays—so difficult to categorize. For people of wealth and leisure, Monday is Sunday’s bonus. For others, who may be biding their time, Monday is the periscope of the armed submarine probing the calm ocean’s surface. Some people start their week like a ferocious watchdog stepping out of its kennel; they focus their very reason for being upon the tasks at hand and accomplish half the week’s work on Monday ...

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Deaf

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pp. 105-154

The day began without a hint that anything unusual could happen. The weather was quite pleasant. I remember looking out of the window and seeing a crystal-clear sky filled with sunlit brilliance. It was a gorgeous, altogether fantastic view of the universe. I was entirely normal myself. No—that is completely incorrect. What I mean is I believed, or, looking back in retrospect, I thought I was entirely normal. Stay with me and you’ll see that I’m a person who is right just about every single time...

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Translator’s Postscript

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pp. 155-157

Liang Xiaosheng has been a respected writer in China since his novella This Is a Miraculous Land won the annual All- China Short Novel Prize in 1982. Developing his craft patiently, while employed in the well-respected Beijing Film Studio and later the Beijing Children’s Film Studio, Liang is today one of China’s most popular writers...


E-ISBN-13: 9780824863852
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824822507

Publication Year: 2001