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Please Don't Call Me Human Paperback – July, 2000

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Paperback, July, 2000
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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Only the second novel by the prolific Chinese literary outlaw to be translated into English, Shuo's (Playing for Thrills) hallucinatory political burlesque follows the National Mobilization Committee (aka "MobCom") in its attempt to create a national wrestling hero capable of earning China renewed international esteem. Since their champion suffered a humiliating loss at the last Olympics, the MobComAled by disheveled chair Zhao Hangyu and genteel lady general Bai DuAhas launched a campaign to locate a successor to the legendary Big Dream Boxer, a 19th-century hero. They stumble upon a street-smart pedicab driver named Tang Yuanbao. Tang is not only a martial arts master, but also the son of the original Boxer, who is alive and well, although he is now 111 years old. Inexplicably, Big Dream is whisked off by authorities to be interrogated about his involvement in a century-old failed rebellion, while the submissive Tang is dragged around Beijing by the lady general and her minions, put on public display, reeducated, dressed up in women's clothing, castrated, and publicly humiliated in a gruesome, staged spectacle. According to the translator's note, Shuo's work is banned in China by the Propaganda Department. Shuo aspires to the surreal, dreamlike subversive comedy of William Burroughs or France's Boris Vian. His characters consult a coin-operated, talking Buddha; three-legged chickens serve as entertainment for the masses. Despite obvious cultural symbolism, however, the story is so confusing that one forgets there was ever a plot, characters are indistinguishable except by name, and popular cultural references are not explained. Consequently, the novel may be of greater interest to the sinologist than to the lay reader. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"...the purest of diabolical pleasures...may be the most delicious parody ever of China's often self-destructive pride..." -- Wall Street Journal, 8/11/00

"...unnervingly funny...plot is simple, although it wanders into the wonderfully wild territory of mythic exaggeration..." -- USA Today, 8/10/00

Wang Shuo, dubbed "China's Kerouac"... [this] surreal farce carries through to an apocalyptic close -- The Economist, April 14, 2001 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oldcastle (July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1901982947
  • ISBN-13: 978-1901982947
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,857,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Augusta Palmer on September 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Don't Call Me Human is a shockingly fun read filled with off-color humor and disgusting detail. The plot revolves around a shady Beijing organization called MobCom, which is desperate to vindicate China's humiliating loss at the hands of an oafish American wrestler. MobCom's search for a modern-day Chinese hero who knows the secrets of the Boxers (who, among other things, mistakenly thought they were immune to the power of firearms) finds its unfortunate object in a Beijing pedicab driver named Tang Yuanbao. Written by China's most famous liumang (low-life slacker is an acceptable translation), Wang Shuo,the novel follows the miseducation and shameless promotion of Tang by MobCom, an endeavor which requires multiple press conferences ridiculously devoid of content, ballet lessons given by an octogenarian in an abandoned art gallery, an unbelievable mock-military excercise in which Tang single-handedly defeats more than one battalion, and even an eventual sex change. The rise and fall of Tang and his backers (who manage to consume 7,000 packages of instant noodles, 100 kilos of tea, and 14000 cigarettes in their first week of hardly working) is the best-told tale of slacking off and deep national/personal humiliation you're ever likely to read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By mungo181 on January 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
One of the funniest books I've read in a while, "Please Don't Call Me Human" goes way beyond being a satire of Chinese nationalism--it's an hysterical condemnation of how far people will go for fame. So original, each outrageous event is a huge surprise.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Reader in Tokyo on March 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book was published in China in late 1989, several months after the Tiananmen crackdown. It wasn't translated into English until 2000.

Wang was prominent in China from the mid-1980s; in 1988-89, four of his works were filmed. A number of early stories and novels followed the lives of cynical urban youths during his nation's shift from socialism to a market economy. His early writing demonstrated an ear for language and an eye for the gap between convention and reality. This book has been called his funniest and most devastating political satire. He's been called a "spiritual pollutant" by his government.

This novel followed the adventures of a martial arts boxer who was chosen by a private-sector committee to represent China and revenge defeat by a foreign wrestler. The committee gave lip service to preserving the nation's honor, but was no less concerned with the profits they expected to make on him. They required full mobilization at all times, political correctness -- or at least the appearance of it -- and training in every possible method -- qigong, ballet and so on. Each member's self-interest was masked by appeals to the greater good.

The individual at the center -- the boxer -- was required to make ever-greater sacrifices in accordance with the committee's whimsical decisions. He did this without complaint, because unlike most other characters he lacked an agenda and was sincere. Other plots followed the boxer's aged father, a participant in the 1900 Boxer Rebellion, who the authorities wished characteristically to condemn for historical mistakes, and the fate of the boxer's neighborhood, which was fenced off and destroyed by the authorities, who auctioned off the contents to the highest bidder.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Walter C. Johnson on August 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm bullheaded and will finish most every book which I did here but came close to putting it down for good.
I guess the thing I got out of it was the Chinese thought of "saving face" no matter how unredeemable the
situation is.
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