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Translated by Carlos Rojas
The Years, Months, Days is a profound and moving fable about the deep love between an old man and his blind dog trying to survive in a terrible drought—there is no food, the villagers have left, but the old man has managed to nurture a corn seed that has germinated on a mountain top. He is devoted to this seedling.
The old man weighs the rays of the sun, working out the arithmetic of starvation and survival. Finally he realises that for his plant to survive, one of them has to be fertiliser. He loses the coin toss, lies in a grave he has dug and asks the dog to bury him.
Rich on so many levels, and not without its flashes of characteristic Yan Lianke humour, this cosmic tale will bring tears to readers’ eyes. The Years, Months, Days is compulsory reading for many Chinese children—and adults. You will see why.
‘Yan Lianke is one of the best contemporary Chinese writers.’
‘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.’
‘One of China’s eminent and most controversial novelists and satirists.’
‘Yan Lianke well deserves to be in the Pantheon of great writers. He has no equal at attacking societal issues or the great Maoist myths in order to turn them into novels so breathtakingly powerful, shot through with black, often desperate, humor.’