*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
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."
"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."
"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."
"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."