'One of China's greatest living authors and fiercest satirists' Guardian
In the ninety-ninth district of a sprawling labour camp, the Author, Musician, Scholar, Theologian and Technician are undergoing Re-education, to restore their revolutionary zeal and credentials. In charge of this process is the Child, who delights in draconian rules, monitoring behaviour and confiscating treasured books.
The inmates – and hundreds of intellectuals just like them -- must meet challenges set by the higher-ups: to grow an ever-spiralling amount of wheat per li of land, and to smelt vast quantities of steel. The stakes are high: they can win their freedom if they are awarded enough of the small red blossoms, medium red blossoms and pentagonal stars given out for effort, obedience and informing on others.
But when bad weather arrives, followed by the ‘three bitter years’ of the Great Famine, the intellectuals are abandoned by the regime and left on their own to survive.
Divided into four narratives, echoing the four texts of Confucianism and the four Gospels of the New Testament, The Four Books tells the story of one of China’s most controversial periods. It also shows us the power of camaraderie, love and faith against oppression and the darkest possible odds.
WINNER OF THE FRANZ KAFKA PRIZE 2014
NOMINATED FOR CZECH AWARD MAGNESIA LITERA 2014
HUA ZHONG WORLD CHINESE LITERATURE PRIZE 2013
FINALIST FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE 2013
WINNER OF THE HUA ZHONG WORLD CHINESE LITERATURE PRIZE 2013
SHORTLISTED FOR THE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN FICTION PRIZE 2012
SHORTLISTED FOR THE PRIX FEMINA ETRANGER 2012
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN ASIAN LITERARY PRIZE 2011
WINNER OF THE LAO SHE LITERATURE AWARD 2004
WINNER OF THE LU XUN AWARD 1997