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Hard Like Water

Translated by Carlos Rojas

Hard Like Water is a thrilling story about an erotic affair during China’s Cultural Revolution.

Returning to his hometown—and his wife—soldier Aijun sees a young woman, Hongmei, wandering barefoot along the railway tracks in the late-afternoon sun. From that moment on, Aijun and Hongmei spend their days and nights writing pamphlets and attending rallies: they are the engines of history. But soon their sexual and revolutionary fervour merge and a crazed new love explodes between them.

The party bosses are impressed by the ardour of the pair’s work. Emboldened, the couple build a ‘tunnel of love’—to further the revolution, of course, but also to connect their homes for their secret rendezvous. What will happen to their dreams of a life together?

Hard Like Water is an irresistible tale about sex and revolution, and a compelling drama about the nature of political power—by one of China’s greatest contemporary writers.


Believer magazine   

Yan Lianke
About the Author

Yan Lianke was born in 1958 in Henan Province, China. He is the author of numerous story collections and novels, including The Day the Sun Died; The Years, Months, Days; The Explosion Chronicles, which was longlisted for the Man Booker International and PEN Translation Prize; The Four Books; Lenin’s Kisses; Serve the People!; and Dream of Ding...

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About the Translator

Carlos Rojas has translated seven books by Yan Lianke.

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Text publication date:
16 June 2021
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Praise for Yan Lianke
andHard Like Water

‘A master of imaginative satire. His work is animated by an affectionate loyalty to his peasant origins in the poverty-stricken province of Henan, and fierce anger over the political abuses of the regime.’

‘I can think of few better novelists than Yan, with his superlative gifts for storytelling and penetrating eye for truth.’

‘Yan Lianke is one of the best contemporary Chinese writers.’

‘An indefatigable tale of love, delusion and revolution. Yan Lianke speaks to the agitation and absurdity of human existence, and the unquenchable need to believe in a cause greater than ourselves.’

Other editions ofHard Like Water
  • Hard Like Water
    ISBN: 9781925923940
    16 June 2021
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