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1988: I Want to Talk with the World Paperback – January 13, 2015
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“In 1988, by way of Howard Goldblatt’s crisp translation to the English language, author Han Han delivers a powerful meditation on the forces of life, love, death, and loss. It’s a novel that overflows with the fragile beauty of youth, the acceptance of adulthood, and the eventual compromises that we all make in order to survive for another day. It’s a funny, poignant, beautiful, and tragically sad story about loves lost and friendships eroded by time, chance, and circumstance. Perhaps most surprisingly for something arriving from modern China though, it’s an extremely relatable and surprisingly hopeful piece of fiction that should have no problem resonating with readers everywhere.” —Typographical Era
About the Author
Han Han was born in Shanghai. Not only is he a bestselling author, magazine editor, and blogger, but he is also a race car driver. In recent years, he has won many championships in top racing events, including the China Rally Championship and the China Touring Car Championship. In 2010, he was named GQ Person of the Year and included on Time magazine’s World’s Most Influential People list.
In 2000, Han published his novel Triple Gate, which has sold over two million copies in China. Five Year Anthology of Han Han, published in March 2004, has been translated into French, Korean, Singaporean, Taiwanese, and Japanese. A collection of essays, This Generation: Dispatches from China’s Most Popular Literary Star (and Race Car Driver), was published in English in 2012.
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The reason I just couldn't give that extra star, making it 5- star, was that the description about what the book is about is somewhat deceiving to me. I don't know if things got "lost in translation" or if maybe I got lost?
It describes the story of a man & an unfamiliar lady going on a road trip together & the experiences they shared while on this trip. Well, it DOES mention these things, but it's more about the man & his memories from childhood up to being an adult having gone to college & work. Very little amount of the story is about their road trip together BUT it was still a very good story
1988 was what this young man named his car. So named for the year the car was. He found a broken down car & with help from a friend, fixed it enough for him to go on the road
Along the way he stops at a place to rest which is where he meets "Nana" who is a young lady in the profession of a "whore" ( I dislike that term but this is how it translates ) Nana knocks on his door to ask him if he'd like her services, but he's actually more tired than interested in that so he has her come in the room to stand to block the light from coming in
As the story progresses, "Nana" tells him a secret for which he then decides to take her on the road with him in 1988. She's in search for a man who owned a bath house that she knew & he was going to meet up with a friend.
This is now when I thought the story should've talked about their road trip experiences but most of that was saved for the last 20%of the book. The majority of the story is his memories of elementary school, his friend DingDing, other friends in school, & what happened back then. Later he reminisces about his work years for a newspaper , a girl friend he had, & his continued search for what happened to another girl ( his first love)
The ending is now where the man & "Nana" now tell stories to each other & also we are told about their time together on the road.
For me, the ending was a mix of sad & happy & still of ....& now what?
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you to Goodreads, publisher & author!
On one of his journeys, Lu Ziye takes a room for the night and is joined by Nana, a pregnant sex worker. He's later joined by police officers who break down the door, kick him into oblivion, and transport him to an interrogation room. He is released with a warning but Nana has to bribe the police to avoid a reeducation camp. The bribe leaves her penniless and, for reasons that are not quite clear to either of them, Nana accompanies Lu Ziye as a platonic passenger in the station wagon he has named 1988.
Lu Ziye takes occasional breaks from his narrative to share childhood memories of friends and marbles and bullies and pirate radio stations and a girl in a blue skirt he glimpsed before falling from a flagpole. He also recounts his unhappy career as a journalist in a truth-challenged society. During his road trip with Nana, we hear the story of Nana's life. Neither Lu Ziye nor Nana have been particularly lucky at love.
The journey Lu Ziye takes with Nana has a purpose but the reader only learns of it near the end of the novel. It is at that point that we discover how Lu Ziye came to possess 1988. The story in its entirety is less than compelling but some of its component parts are moving and many are amusing.
Much of the novel is light but there is always a sense of dread lurking in the background. The narrative hints at the omnipresent fear that comes from living in an authoritarian culture but the text is not overtly political. Given the reality of censorship in China, an understated approach is probably the only one Han Han can take, but he manages to convey a sense of pervasive oppression. Lu Ziye is not exactly a rebel but he has a rebellious heart. Perhaps he is following his heart as he wanders but perhaps he lacks the courage to follow it to its true destination. At the same time, he admires the courage displayed by friends who are no longer alive.
As is often the case in road trip novels, Lu Ziye's journey seems to represent his journey through life. The novel suggests that friendships are one secret to enduring that life, but for Lu Ziye, friends are just as transient as the rest of his existence. The ending is surprising, cautiously hopeful but far from optimistic. The novel's subtitle -- "I Want to Talk to the World" -- suggests both a sense of futility and the possibility of making a contribution to the ongoing dialog of life, even if that conversation is not the mark we might intend to leave. Then again, given that Han Han is known for his blogging, perhaps the subtitle is meant as a shout from behind a wall that still muffles much of the sound that reaches the western world.
I found this protagonist's journey disjointed & random. Because I had difficulty following a train of thought through this meandering road trip, I gave it three stars.
Link to purchase: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1477821112/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1477821112&linkCode=as2&tag=netg01-20