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I Love Dollars and Other Stories of China by…
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I Love Dollars and Other Stories of China

by Zhu Wen

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I Love Dollars And Other Stories of China by Zhu Wen provides insight into the changes occurring in Chinese society amidst rapid economic growth. This collection of novellas written in the 1990s marks a departure in pre-Tiananmen Square Chinese literature which focused criticisms on the government and the everyday inefficiencies and corruptions of various bureaucracies. As China has embraced capitalism, the resultant impacts on Chinese society have upended traditional relationships, while post – Tiananmen Chinese literature has become less overtly political. Despite this, a new generation of authors have found plenty to criticize as China’s changes and the resultant literature reflect a society ill at ease with its growing pains.

Zhu Wen pens absurdist stories detailing drifting lives as they interact with a new China. I Love Dollars upends the traditional idea of filial piety as a son tries to solicit sex for his father as they indulge their appetites around a city. Everything is commodified, and money is worshiped as the only end worth having. Devoid of meaningful relationships, the son drifts through life un-anchored and unable to grasp the values of his father. Other stories highlight the randomness of life in China as Zhu Wen’s narrators, single men, constantly encounter characters who burden them with stories and problems. These portrayals, in A Boat Crossing and A Hospital Night again highlight disruption and confusion, while a seething anger and violence also lurks about in Wheels.

Beginning with a satiric paean to money, I Love Dollars And Other Stories is incredibly humorous. The bizarre situations and lucid writing displays an original voice. The success of China is often portrayed as a rosy story with little attention paid to Chinese voices and their personal reflections on their society. The inevitable backlash at the complete upheaval in Chinese society has noten addressed especially as China has shifted its weight on the world stage. As the machine of the Chinese economy grinds on, it is useful to remember the variety of voices in the country. As the world addresses China, realize that there isn’t one Chinese voice, but several, and the best place to measure them are in the artists reflecting changes in their society.

Originally from my blog:
http://poetsandpolicymakers.com/ ( )
  brianjungwi | Sep 30, 2010 |
Hell yeah! This was great modern Chinese literature. I Love Dollars is a book of short novellas and a couple of short stories. Wen’s characters live in the new dollar-driven China being bounced around through random chance encounters and events while seeking pleasure and kicking aside the decaying rubbish of the Maoist repression era. His characters are cynical, not too endearing, and generally have a ‘fuck all’ attitude but will bend down and pet the puppy just enough to elicit a bit of sympathy for their plight. Wen’s voice is unique; a loosely punctuated first-person narrative in which speech runs on within sentences of descriptive prose. Wen wrote these novellas during the beginning of China’s economic liberalization where anything could be set on paper that would sell and make money… anything that didn’t touch on politics. As Deng Xiaoping said, “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice, it’s a good cat”.

I Love Dollars is probably the weakest story in this collection. A Hospital Night, A Boat Crossing, Wheels and Pounds, Ounces, Meat are the best of the book.

From the beginning of Pounds, Ounces, Meat:

On the bridge by the old Drum Tower I was stopped by a shabby individual, clearly someone who’d wandered in from out of town, with a black bag tucked under his arm and an unnerving gleam in his eyes. He told me my physiognomy was most unusual; he simply had to tell my fortune, he wouldn’t charge a cent. The plastic on top of the bridge had melted tackily in the sun: crossing felt like walking over spat-out chewing gum, or smoker’s phlegm, or snot, or semen, or fresh dog shit. I include these comparisons purely to illuminate, not disgust, you understand. If I were to suggest you imagine it was raw meat underfoot, now that, I admit, would be nauseating. Fuck off, I told him as impatiently as I could manage.

Briefly, all too briefly, the man was transfixed by shock, too transfixed to manage any kind of response, till I’d reached the end of the bridge’s elevation and was about to set off down the steps on the other side. Good luck’s coming your way this year! He screeched vengefully at me across the asphalt. About fucking time, I muttered to myself as I descended. When I was halfway down, I happened to look up and see a girl with a healthily tanned face coming toward me up the steps, carrying a black parasol and a copy of
I Love Dollars. My heart began to pound. I wasn’t sure, at that moment, whether this counted as my good luck or not. In subsequent weeks and months, I often thought back over this scene, about this girl and that book, about how she kept the latter pressed beguilingly up against her chest, blinding me to its obvious flatness. ( )
  Banoo | Nov 6, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zhu Wenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lovell, JuliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In 1989, the twenty-two year old Zhu Wen graduated in electrical engineering from a university in Nanjing (eastern China). (Translator's Afterword)
Zhu Wen is that rare creature among writers: a novelist who doesn't keep copies of his own works. (A Note about the Translation)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143113275, Paperback)

An immediate sensation upon publication in China, I Love Dollars is a hilarious send-up of China's love affair with capitalism by one of its most gifted new writers. In the title story, a young man, acutely aware of his filial duty, sets out to secure a prostitute for his father, only to haggle his old man out of a good time. Here, gleefully exposed, are the inanities of everyday life in contemporary China. As penetrating as Kafka, as outrageously funny as Larry David, and with a slangy swagger all Zhu Wen's own, I Love Dollars is priceless.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A collection of short stories looks at modern-day China's identity crisis in a post-Mao world as the country flirts with the trials and trappings of capitalism in everyday life.

» see all 4 descriptions

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