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Translated by Carlos Rojas
The village of Explosion was founded more than a millennium ago by refugees fleeing a volcanic eruption. But in the post-Mao era the name takes on a new significance as the community grows explosively. Three major families—linked by a complex web of loyalty, betrayal, desire and ambition—are the driving force behind their hometown’s transformation into an urban superpower.
Brimming with intelligence and wit, The Explosion Chronicles considers the high stakes of passion and power, the consequences of corruption and greed, the polarising dynamics of love and hate between families, and the seemingly unstoppable excesses of capitalism—it is a smart, flamboyant and poetic tale of ambition, lies and vice from China’s master satirist.
‘A rip-roaring Swiftian satire from a contemporary Chinese master… .Yan Lianke, one of China’s most forthright and versatile novelists, enlists extravagant comedy and far-fetched fable to propel his critique of a society where ‘power and money have colluded to steal people’s souls.’… The reader slips into a literary China of poetry and mystery that flourished long before the boom.’
‘[The Explosion Chronicles] has the absurdist feel of an Ionesco or Dürrenmatt piece, though without any of the heavy-handed obviousness. Indeed, his satire is careful and crafty…it can be read as a kind of Swiftian satire…Brilliant.’
‘Just one of the most wonderful novels I’ve read…He’s [Lianke] known for his satirical writing but if this novels’s anything to go by, there’s an equally impassioned empathy which just exudes from his writing’
‘This darkly absurd history trucks freely with the fantastic…but many of the more brazen events are taken straight from the news…Yan’s burlesque of a nation driven insane by money is equally a satire of some of the excesses of the Chinese Revolution’
‘A rip-roaring Swiftian satire from a contemporary Chinese master…Yan Lianke, one of China’s most forthright and versatile novelists, enlists extravagant comedy and far-fetched fable to propel his critique of a society where ‘power and money have colluded to steal people’s souls’…The reader slips into a literary China of poetry and mystery that flourished long before the boom.’
‘A satire of ambition.’
‘An epic page-turner…a multi-layered marvel…combining unflinching observation [and] stinging satire…Yan’s mesmerizing ability to pull readers into this raw, subversive, not completely fictional world will continue to build his international audiences.’
‘[Yan’s] fiction has lampooned some of the darkest moments in Chinese history…In this latest work, however, Yan shifts his irreverent gaze from the past to the present and toward projections of the future, taking stock of China’s vertiginous economic rise and the astonishing dissolution of its collective social conscience…The formal inventiveness of The Explosion Chronicles is impressive and its fictional universe vividly drawn…I can think of few better novelists than Yan, with his superlative gifts for storytelling and penetrating eye for truth.’