An award-winning, internationally acclaimed Chinese bestseller, originally banned in China but recently named one of the last decade’s ten most influential books there, To Live tells the epic story of one man’s transformation from the spoiled son of a rich landlord to an honorable and kindhearted peasant.
After squandering his family’s fortune in gambling dens and brothels, the young, deeply penitent Fugui settles down to do the honest work of a farmer. Forced by the Nationalist Army to leave behind his family, he witnesses the horrors and privations of the Civil War, only to return years later to face a string of hardships brought on by the ravages of the Cultural Revolution. Left with an ox as the companion of his final years, Fugui stands as a model of flinty authenticity, buoyed by his appreciation for life in this narrative of humbling power.
About the Author
Yu Hua was born in 1960 in Zhejiang, China. He finished high school during the Cultural Revolution and worked as a dentist for five years before beginning to write in 1983. He has published three novels, six collections of stories, and three collections of essays. His work has been translated into French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean. In 2002 Yu Hua became the first Chinese writer to win the prestigious James Joyce Foundation Award. To Live was awarded Italy’s Premio Grinzane Cavour in 1998 and was named one of the last decade’s ten most influential books in China. Yu Hua lives in Beijing.
Michael Berry is an assistant professor of contemporary Chinese cultural studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of a forthcoming collection of interviews with Chinese filmmakers and the translator of Ye Zhaoyan’s Nanjing 1937: A Love Story and Chang Ta-chun’s Wild Kids: Two Novels About Growing Up.
Praise for To Live…
“A work of astounding emotional power.” —Dai Sijie, author of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
“Yu Hua is the most profound voice coming out of China today. To Live reaches not only into the very essence of China and the Chinese people but into the blood and bones core of what it means to be a human being.” —Lisa See, author of On Gold Mountain
“A Chinese Book of Job, To Live is a heart-wrenching saga, written with beauty, defiance, and hope. Yu Hua’s books deserve a place on the highest shelf.” —Wang Ping, author of Aching for Beauty and Foreign Devil
“A major contemporary novelist, Yu Hua writes with a cold eye but a warm heart. His novels are ingeniously structured and exude a mythical aura. Though unmistakably Chinese, they are universally resonant.” —Ha Jin, author of Waiting
“A book of subtle power and poignant drama. You love Yu Hua’s characters because they are flawed, vibrant, soulful, and real: you celebrate with them the small wonders of life, and feel their pain as they overcome tragedy. Ultimately, To Live is a redemptive story of the human spirit, one that is universal in its emotional depth.” –Terrence Cheng, author of Sons of Heaven