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China in Ten Words [Kindle Edition]

Yu Hua , Allan H. Barr
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.89
You Save: $5.11 (34%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

From one of China’s most acclaimed writers, his first work of nonfiction to appear in English: a unique, intimate look at the Chinese experience over the last several decades, told through personal stories and astute analysis that sharply illuminate the country’s meteoric economic and social transformation.
Framed by ten phrases common in the Chinese vernacular—“people,” “leader,” “reading,” “writing,” “Lu Xun” (one of the most influential Chinese writers of the twentieth century), “disparity,” “revolution,” “grassroots,” “copycat,” and “bamboozle”—China in Ten Words reveals as never before the world’s most populous yet oft-misunderstood nation. In “Disparity,” for example, Yu Hua illustrates the mind-boggling economic gaps that separate citizens of the country. In “Copycat,” he depicts the escalating trend of piracy and imitation as a creative new form of revolutionary action. And in “Bamboozle,” he describes the increasingly brazen practices of trickery, fraud, and chicanery that are, he suggests, becoming a way of life at every level of society.
Characterized by Yu Hua’s trademark wit, insight, and courage, China in Ten Words is a refreshingly candid vision of the “Chinese miracle” and all its consequences, from the singularly invaluable perspective of a writer living in China today.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


'He succeeds marvellously. China in Ten Words captures the heart of the Chinese people in an intimate, profound and often disturbing way. If you think you know China, you will be challenged to think again. If you don't know China, you will be introduced to a country that is unlike anything you have heard from travellers or read about in the news.' Wall Street Journal 'Caustic and difficult to forget, China in Ten Words is a people's eye view of a world in which the people have little place' Pico Iyer TIME 'By a raconteur, not an academic... The most powerful and vivid sections reach back to Yu Hua's childhood during the Cultural Revolution... It is a cautionary tale about the risks of subterfuge' New York Times Book Review 'Readers new to China will find this a gripping introduction to the country, one which clashes on every page with the refrain that China is the new superpower before which all must bend the knee' Literary Review 'Moving and elegantly crafted - with an intimate tone and witty prose - Offers [a] rare insight into the cause and effect of China's 'economic miracle', focusing close attention on the citizens of the world's most populous country.' Publishers Weekly Yu Hua offers a humorous, chatty blend of memoir, anecdote and scything critique in this series of essays-and gives a clearer picture of China today than many scholarly tomes ' Metropolis

About the Author

Yu Hua is the author of four novels, six collections of stories, and three collections of essays. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. In 2002, he became the first Chinese writer to win the James Joyce Award.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1056 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0715643266
  • Publisher: Vintage; Tra edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004SOQ0QW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,880 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The People and the Bamboozle February 11, 2012
China is a paradox: hard-charging capitalist country and communist stronghold. There's a Wild West mentality now, with every man, woman, and child for him or herself, and at the same time still tied closely to the one-party state, a political system that brooks no dissent. Yu Hua, a best-selling novelist in China, dissects his country through the prism of his own life in China in Ten Words, and sees the contradictions as having more in common with the country's past than the average outside observer would see. It's obviously an uncomfortable truth: his book cannot be published in China, even though he lives in Beijing and continues to be popular as a novelist.

Hua centers his argument around ten themes, his ten words. They range from, at the beginning of the book, "people" and "leader" to the two final words, "copycat" and "bamboozle." "People" is a signal word in modern China: after all, it's officially the People's Republic of China. But "the people," when Yu Hua was growing up (he was born in 1960, during the disastrous Great Leap Forward) had a very different meaning than it does now. He dwells on what he considers the major turning point for China: the role of the Chinese people in the Tiananmen Square in 1989, and how, once that movement for political freedom was crushed, economic freedom was the only freedom available.

What Hua shows again and again, often through personal anecdotes from his childhood and news accounts of contemporary times, are the startling parallels between the Maoist past and the capitalist present. Many of his stories revolve around the Cultural Revolution, which started when he was six, and only petered out in his later teenage years.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's in a Word? December 11, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great writing, great story-telling, and insightful commentary on contemporary cultural events of China through the use of ten essays on the meaning of ten words. The author uses his own life history and his brilliant skills to bring the meaning of these words to life, in the context of his life and the lives of Chinese citizens. He uses his sharp mind and warm heart to analyze political policy and human interaction. I learned so much about the life of the author, but also gained a much deeper understanding of the rapidly changing Chinese culture and political landscape. I recommend this book to anyone interested in China's history or culture, or to anyone interested in how the meaning of one word can change radically when used in a different cultural context, or to anyone interested in reading a fascinating life story. A marvelous read on so many fronts.
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brief introduction to China November 10, 2011
Yu Hua tries to depict China's modern history and current situation in ten words. Some words are well written, but some are just about Yu Hua's own life experience, I think. Nice read but not good as his "To Live: A Novel".

Most of the book are related to Cultural Revolution, which is indeed a big thing in China's history and to some degree cultivated today's China society and economics. Yu Hua has a sense of humor even when writing tragic things, but many times after I laughed I had a deeply depressed feeling - hell, I'm living in this strange country.

Needless to say, it has no chance of being published in China. Ridiculously, anything telling some dark side truth of China can't be published in China, which is like Orwell's societies in his two famous books.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Written, Powerful Memoir August 14, 2012
There is a great deal of insight packed into this short, powerful book. Author Hua Yu chooses 10 words that he believes capture the essence of China and its culture today. The first word is "people," which affords Hua an entry to discussing the myriad ways that the Cultural Revolution has shaped contemporary China, since it indelibly shaped the views and character of the Chinese people who survived it, including those who rule the nation now. A child during the Cultural Revolution, Hua saw many things that most kids should never see, and that probably went a long way toward making him the insightful writer he is today.

The second word is "leader," which of course features a discussion of Mao and all of the initiatives that go along with him -- the so-called Long March, the Great Leap Forward, etc. What is notable is that Hua retains a reverence for Mao, even in the face of history's revelations about Mao's eccentric (some would say insane) decisions and personal choices. Upon reflection, however, it seems to me that someone whose childhood was formed in the fires of China in the 60s, with its idolatry of Mao and pervasive propaganda machine, can perhaps do nothing else, lest the mind explode at the futility of all that has passed.

The other eight words -- reading, writing, Lu Xun, revolution, disparity, grassroots, copycat and bamboozle -- carry equally compelling associations, but I was particularly struck by Hua's comments on "copycat." He asserts that the entire Chinese culture is, essentially, fake. Fake news, fake freedoms, fake constitution, fake DVDs, etc. This idea of falsity is covered over by language, with 'copycat' being the favored term used by the Chinese in an attempt to legitimize their Orwellian state.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Zhongguo!
Fantastic book! I have now read 3 "popular" style books written about China, this is by far the best one. Read more
Published 9 days ago by taylor storey
2.0 out of 5 stars I found this boring. Introduction was great
Sorry, I found this boring. Introduction was great!
Published 1 month ago by Willow
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great modern Chinese author.
Published 2 months ago by Chaz_Hen
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
I originally chose this book as the subject for a report relating to a study-abroad trip I am taking to China during this summer (July 2014). Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Necessary Insights Clearly Illustrated
Mr Hua is a native of China, and in this book shows us in ten anecdotes from his life experiences what modern Chinese society is like. Read more
Published 4 months ago by stephen a. ernst
4.0 out of 5 stars Literary and informative.
A beautiful, literary, insightful book about the recent historical and cultural underpinnings of China today. Read more
Published 5 months ago by J. Marks
4.0 out of 5 stars Really fantastic reading.
A Chinese student of mine had come back from a visit home. He had this book. One of his former teachers suggested that he read it. He had been in school here for a few years. Read more
Published 5 months ago by James Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars great writer
well written and informative.totally outstanding writer. i have read most of his books and find them unputdownable.definite must read folks.
Published 5 months ago by lai dor
5.0 out of 5 stars Explanation through Examples
Yu Hua's personal life stories are interwoven in all of his explanations of each word, along with the history of Revolutionary China. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Maryann Mina
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need to read about China today
This is a succinct but fascinating look at contemporary China. The events in Tiananmen Square form the dividing line between China of the Cultural Revolution and today's China. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Carol A Wilhelm
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