A fiercely satirical story of greed and corruption from “one of China’s most successful fiction writers” (The New York Times)
978-0-8021-2177-6 • $18.00 • Paperback • Oct. 2013
In the bucolic village of Liven in the middle of a sweltering summer, it suddenly begins to snow, a hot snow that falls for seven days seven long days that not only transform summer into winter but that forever disrupt the balance of life. This mystifying climatic incongruity begins the award-winning novel Lenin’s Kisses, an absurdist masterpiece that melds fable, history, and satire in an enthralling tragicomedy set in modern day China.
Nestled deep within the Balou mountains, by and large spared from the government’s watchful eye, the people of Liven enjoy harmonious days filled with enough food and leisure to be fully content. But when their crops are obliterated by the unseasonal snowstorm, and with it their livelihood, a county official arrives with a lucrative scheme both to raise money for the district and boost his career. He convinces the village to start a traveling performance troupe showcasing their talents, which are unlike anything he has ever witnessed. The majority of the 197 villagers are disabled, and their skill sets include Blind Tonghua’s acute listening, One-Eye’s one-eyed needle threading, and Deafman Ma’s firecrackers on the ear. With the profits from this extraordinary show, the county official intends to buy Lenin’s embalmed corpse from Russiawhere it is slowly decaying from lack of upkeepand install it in a grand mausoleum in the mountains to attract tourism. In the ultimate marriage of capitalism and communism, such an incredible acquisition would benefit the inhabitants of Liven as well as the entire region. However, even the best intentions go astray, and the success of the Shuanghuai County Special-Skills Performance Troupe comes at a serious price.
Yan Lianke, one of China’s most distinguished writerswhose works often push the envelope of his country’s censorship systemdelivers a humorous, daring, and riveting portrait of the trappings and consequences of greed and corruption at the heart of all humanity.