The Fat Years ridicules until it gets ridiculously boring

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.

The Gao Brothers

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.

The Execution of Christ by The Gao Brothers

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Coveting: Propaganda Posters

Remember those old WWII propaganda posters in the history textbooks? Nothing highlights the hysterical mindset better than those government funded posters. The propaganda poster I remember most has nothing to do with war. Canada used to put posters up in Western Europe to recruit immigrants. They would glue apples to evergreen trees and photograph them to convince potential settlers that Canada was just swimming in fruit.

Of course, settlers would arrive just in time to realize that Canada had no fruit bearing evergreens. And they’d have no choice but to fend for themselves through the coldest winter of their lives. We still lie to our immigrants to a certain degree (about jobs) but no one believes we have fruit bearing evergreens anymore.

Check out Just One Scarf’s propaganda posters for the nerdy. All prints available thru Etsy!

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