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I Love Dollars: And Other Stories of China Paperback – February 26, 2008


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I Love Dollars: And Other Stories of China + Jia Zhangke's 'Hometown Trilogy': Xiao Wu, Platform, Unknown Pleasures (BFI Film Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (February 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143113275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143113270
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #372,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the preface, translator Lovell meaningfully notes a portrait of Kafka in Zhu’s home; Borges, Vonnegut, and Swift are other suggested touchstones for Zhu’s fiction. The extravagant black humor of Terry Southern, suffused with irrationality and pain, also comes to mind, but Zhu’s characters and what happens to them are basically ordinary. In “A Boat Crossing,” a paranoid nebbish trying to move on from a village he’s tired of can’t get anyone, from his former workmates to his fellow travelers, to leave him alone. As excruciating as the greatest imaginable Three Stooges’ routine, the story ratchets up brusqueness and ill will toward an unforeseen explosion. Worse off yet is the computer engineer trapped in a neverending government project in “Ah, Xiao Xie”; he’s way more sinned against than sinning. The most repellent of Zhu’s raconteurish narrator-protagonists, the cynical young writer trying to see his visiting father, has a good time in “I Love Dollars” emerges the least scathed. Harsh satire of the new China of rampant capitalism under the aegis of rigid Communist oligarchs may power these stories, but they’re hilarious—though like a train wreck—quite apart from it. --Ray Olson

Review

Finalist for the Kiriyama Prize

"Extraordinary . . . Zhu Wen has gifted us with his darkly comic view of the underbelly of the New China."
-Kiriyama Prize Judges' Citation

"A rollicking read . . . A lively look at the dark side of China's boom."
-Time

"This wonderful book . . . is not to be missed. . . . Here are stories that would make anyone laugh. . . . Zhu Wen makes a laughingstock out of China. . . . Great satire-think of Swift or Kurt Vonnegut-has frequently been outlandishly comic on the surface while barely managing to disguise the despair at human stupidity and viciousness that lies underneath. These six stories are very much in this tradition. . . . [I Love Dollars is] classic comic fiction of the highest order."
-The Wall Street Journal

"It's almost an insult to consider Zhu Wen as a man of his times. Writers like him are above that, timeless: like Catullus, Balzac or Daniil Kharms, Zhu Wen is one of those writers who seems to leap from the pages of his stories, grinning obscenely and poking the reader in the abdomen. . . . This is weird, twisted territory, but it's the familiar weird, twisted territory of Kafka's 'The Judgment' or Freud's chapter on 'The Embarrassment-Dream of Nakedness.' . . . These are primal, ancient themes; people have been telling stories like this since Ham saw Noah naked. They remain fresh in part because of their psychosexual immediacy, and in part because not just anyone can tell them well."
-The Nation

"Hilarious . . . Borges, Vonnegut, and Swift are suggested touchstones for Zhu's fiction. The extravagant black humor of Terry Southern, suffused with irrationality and pain, also comes to mind."
-Booklist (starred review)

"Comic. . . . Absurdist. . . . Provocative. . . . [A] masterful translation."
-San Diego Union-Tribune

"Exquisite commentaries on life in modern China . . . Modern China, as captured by Wen, is a Kafkaesque horror. The parallels to Kafka's work are uncanny. . . . Wen manages to capture all of the loathing, and paradoxically-and much to my great relief-all of the bleak humor of Kafka's best work. . . . [I Love Dollars] will surely elicit snorts and belly laughs from anyone with an appreciation for dark humor. . . . It might be hell to live through, but it makes for a fantastic read."
-The Millions

"An absorbing portrait of the go-go years in China . . . Extravagantly funny."
-Jonathan Spence, London Review of Books

"Brilliant . . . Fresh and very funny."
-The Seattle Times

"This wonderful book . . . is not to be missed. . . . Here are stories that would make anyone laugh. . . . [I Love Dollars is] classic comic fiction of the highest order."
-Taipei Times


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dick Johnson VINE VOICE on May 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are six stories in this book, each roughly tied to the others. They are I Love Dollars; A Hospital Night; A Boat Crossing; Wheels; Ah, Xiao Xie; Pounds, Ounces, Meat.

I read quite a bit of Chinese fiction, from classic to very modern. I like most of what I read. I read quite a bit of post-modern and like most of it as well. This book, though, is nearly impossible to review. Usually such a book has a few good stories, a few stinkers and the rest so-so. To me, each of these had moments of all three.

Some were clever in concept but way overworked - the fallacy that if some is good then more is necessarily better. Some were a mixture of noirish post-modernism (and just quirky) that just didn't work. All had humorous moments; all had interesting characters; but none were great from beginning to end.

Unless you are determined to sample untried authors, I'd give this one a pass. There were enough interesting moments to give this three stars - but had this been a novel, I'm not sure I would have finished it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David I. Cahill on June 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like Wang Shuo, Jia Pingwa, Liu Heng and other outcast authors born in the 1960s-70s who came of age in the 80s-90s, Zhu Wen maintains an uneasy, on-off relationship with his present milieu, having a great deal to say that few seem to want to read about. The Chinese audience for domestic fiction, perhaps unsurprisingly, is not much interested in realist or ironic descriptions of their society, in contemplating unflattering mirrors held up to them showing the dark side of their country's meteoric prosperity. Instead, as with most readers everywhere in our age of US cultural hegemony spearheaded by Hollywood, Disney and Apple, contemporary Chinese who read at all are more interested in fiction that appeals to their desires and longings, in escapist and fantasy writing, formulaic romances and mysteries, inspirational biographies, self-help books and get-rich-quick guides, in books that manage to combine all of these aspirations to some degree: the Harry Potter series, Dan Brown's tomes, or word-of-mouth bestsellers like Rhonda Byrne's The Secret (all widely popular in the Chinese). It's not that there is no potential readership for serious or "literary" fiction; it's just that few publishers have the financial incentive to venture into such dicey territory (sound familiar?), not to mention the toxic byways of political satire in China. The result is that the audience for Chinese realism and satire is largely relegated to the foreign readership in translation. It is also noteworthy that the title novella I Love Dollars and the five other stories in this collection were all published in the original almost two decades ago.Read more ›
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By not another one on March 23, 2013
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my favorite inner workings of china book is Factory Girls by Leslie Chang - I learned so much - and of course her husband's humorous and informative book of driving in China and it's infrastructure. However, this is an insider's account and thus invaluable!
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