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BLACK SNOW by Liu Heng, translated...

BLACK SNOW by Liu Heng, translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt (Grove: $11.; 261 pp.) and RUNNING WILD: New Chinese Writers edited by David Der-Wei Wang with Jeanne Tai (Columbia University Press: $15.95; 320 pp., paperback original). The struggle of the individual to escape the constraints of traditional societal expectations permeates recent Chinese fiction. “Black Snow” depicts the efforts of ex-tough Li Huiquan to create a new life in Beijing after three years in a labor camp. Chafing under the restrictions of the corrupt central bureaucracy and the constant supervision of political instructors, police and neighborhood committees, Li Huiquan grows so alienated he makes Camus’ Mersault look like a glad-hander: “No matter where he went, there was always someone telling him what to do and what not to do; by demeaning him, they reaffirmed their own superiority.” Liu’s grim novel presents a bleak portrait of blighted hope. Wang includes the work of ethnic Chinese writers living in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States in “Running Wild.” In Yu Hua’s chilling “One Kind of Reality” a family misunderstanding escalates into a series of murders in a grisly metaphor for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. The narrator of Tang Min’s “I Am Not a Cat” contrasts her experiences at an icily efficient state abortion clinic with the care her pet receives, while Gu Zhaosen juxtaposes two versions of the immigrant experience in the moving “Plain Moon.”


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