BookBrowse Reviews Brothers by Yu Hua

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A Novel

by Yu Hua

  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2009, 656 pages
    Jan 2010, 656 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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About this Book



An epic and wildly unhinged black comedy of modern Chinese society running amok

Brothers, published as one book in English, was originally published in China as two separate books.  The first volume, published in 2005, relates Baldi Li's and Song Gang's childhoods and early adolescence growing up during China's Cultural Revolution (see sidebar).  While the style is consistent throughout the novel, the overall tone of the first book is increasingly dark, with a depth that isn't carried through to the book's second half. A pervasive sense of impending tragedy imbues much of the narrative. Yu does a remarkable job of conveying the emotional and physical devastation inflicted on China's populace as seen through the eyes of its children.

The second book (first published in 2006) picks up when the brothers are young men and follows their lives throughout the decades that follow. Yu chronicles China's reaction to and recovery from the ...

About the Author: BookBrowse has a short biography of the author but a longer profile, together with an early review of Brothers from 2006, can be found at the New York Times.

Interesting Links:

  • Though I Am Gone, a Chinese documentary (with English subtitles) about the persecution and ultimate death of a Beijing school principal, Bian Zhongyun. She was killed by female Red Guards, former students of her school, who used wooden clubs spiked with nails to beat her to death. The documentary is about one hour long and is posted on YouTube in 10 parts, the first part is available below. Perhaps, through telling the story of just one person, this documentary can provide us with a human-sized view into the horror of the Cultural Revolution.

  • Propaganda posters and songs from The Cultural Revolution.

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