Sorry Penguins, I meant to blog more this week but it’s been a busy week! But that’s not my real excuse. No, my real excuse is that I’ve been buried in The Fat Years by Hong Kong media veteran Chan Koonchung.
I picked up The Fat Years because it was banned in China. And while not all books banned by China are good – this one was probably one of my favourites. Based in the near future, The Fat Years features a Taiwanese journalist named Lao Chen living in China.
Lao Chen is beyond happy, he’s elated and he’s not the only one. And he’s not entire sure why – except that the economy has fallen in the West and China has become the greatest superpower. Lao Chen begins to doubt his own happiness when he runs into an old friend who tells him that the whole country has forgotten about a whole month. A month that was filled with turmoil.
Dystopia fans take note – this is a fantastically, puzzling dystopia. Except in the preface you learn that this isn’t a dystopia, this is simply Maoist China. Which explains why Chan Koonchung was able to write such a detailed dystopia. I actually really enjoyed the book with its rich use of facts from Chinese history and translated proverbs.
But the story takes a dive when the characters kidnap a government official and interrogate him. The official gives a very, very long speech which resembles something out of my university political science textbooks. Only duller. Mind you, I think this was a satire of all the rhetoric The Communist Party likes to feed its citizens but it was a very long satire. I couldn’t read all of it because it was so long and tedious.
I mean, even the characters in the book fall asleep during the monologue. And I fell asleep several times reading it.
Photo credits: gaobrothers.net