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Three Brothers: Book summary and reviews of Three Brothers by Yan Lianke

Three Brothers

Memories of My Family

by Yan Lianke

Three Brothers by Yan Lianke X
Three Brothers by Yan Lianke
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2020
    224 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

From one of China's most highly regarded writers, winner of the Franz Kafka Prize and twice finalist for the International Booker Prize, Three Brothers is a beautiful and heartwrenching memoir of the author's childhood and family life during the Cultural Revolution.

In this heartfelt, intimate memoir, Yan Lianke brings the reader into his childhood home in Song County in Henan Province, painting a vivid portrait of rural China in the 1960s and '70s. Three Brothers is a literary testament to the great humanity and small joys that exist even in times of darkness.

With lyricism and deep emotion, Yan chronicles the extraordinary lives of his father and uncles, as well as his own. Living in a remote village, Yan's parents are so poor that they can only afford to use wheat flour on New Year and festival days, and while Yan dreams of fried scallion buns, and even steals from his father to buy sesame seed cakes. He yearns to leave the village, however he can, and soon novels become an escape. He resolves to become a writer himself after reading on the back of a novel that its author was given leave to remain in the city of Harbin after publishing her book. In the evenings, after finishing back-breaking shifts hauling stones at a cement factory, sometimes sixteen hours long, he sets to work writing. He is ultimately delivered from the drudgery and danger of manual labor by a career in the Army, but he is filled with regrets as he recalls these years of scarcity, turmoil, and poverty.

A philosophical portrait of grief, death, home, and fate that gleams with Yan's quick wit and gift for imagery, Three Brothers is a personal portrait of a politically devastating period, and a celebration of the power of the family to hold together even in the harshest circumstances.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A leading Chinese novelist, famous for sharp satire, tells the story of his family's hardscrabble life with surprising tenderness...Complicated and powerful." - Booklist (starred review)

"Throughout the book, Yan depicts his provincial relatives with enormous heart and respect, acknowledging their sacrifices in a dark yet poignant meditation on grief and death...A memoir steeped in metaphor and ultimately tremendously moving." - Kirkus Reviews

"Told in straightforward prose, this is a powerful family memoir of a tumultuous era of China's recent past." - Publishers Weekly

"Full of love, sorrow, and tenderness, Yan Lianke's memoir offers a deeply heartfelt account of his family in the 1960s and 70s. Three Brothers is a must read for anyone who wants to understand post-Mao China and a new opportunity to experience more of what this extraordinary author conveys to us with his vivid and poetic style." - Xiaolu Guo, author of Nine Continents

The information about Three Brothers shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Yan Lianke

Yan Lianke is the author of numerous story collections and novels, including The Day the Sun Died; The Years, Months, Days; The Explosion Chronicles; The Four Books; Lenin's Kisses; Serve the People!; and Dream of Ding Village. Among many accolades, he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize, he was twice a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize, and he has been shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Man Asian Literary Prize, and the Prix Femina Étranger. He has received two of China's most prestigious literary honors, the Lu Xun Prize and the Lao She Award.

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