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Young Babylon Paperback – September 1, 2015
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About the Author
Lu Nei, formerly Shang Junwei, was born in 1973 in Suzhou, east China. He is the fiction moderator for the “underliterature” section of the website sickbaby.org. He has had a wide range of jobs, including factory worker, shop assistant, salesperson, warehouse manager, radio announcer, and creative director for an advertising agency. He lives in Shanghai.
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Top Customer Reviews
It's not some kind of classic like The Catcher in the Rye like the publisher suggests. It's a good story about the coming of age of a young man in industrial China. A lot of people have problems with the vulgarity in this novel. It's a cultural difference as I see it. In America, if you call a butch female coworker a "tiger" or you call a supervisor "Old-Ass" you're looking at an EEO complaint. But you have to realize the rest of the world isn't a politically correct conscious as we are. They only have a state media over there so they don't have the commentators telling them how they should talk and what they should be offended by. It is quite a vulgar book but it was mostly the sex obsession with the protagonist that disturbed me. Just get a girlfriend already.
The negative quality of this book is the repetitiveness and discussion of topics that are out of place. At times the book will introduce a character or subject like you should know all about it and then in the next chapter it will introduce the character or subject in depth. This made the book very hard to read at time and really disturbed the flow. Instead of going into a sidebar to discuss a subject in the middle of a chapter I wished it just got on with the story. Because this was written in a different language I don't know if this is the fault of the editor, a bad translator, or the translator just doing the best with what he had to work with.
At the end of the day I'm happy I read Young Babylon, but if it wasn't a Kindle First read I probably wouldn't have sought it out.
This is one of the worst books I have ever read. To give the author the benefit of the doubt, there may be a lot lost in translation or culturally not getting what is supposed to be humorous or entertaining. The book was promoted as a story about breaking free from societal, political, and family expectations to follow one's dreams. It is nothing of the sort. It is a non-stop horrific narrative of daily abuse, degradation, a toxic and dangerous environment, and utter disregard for human life. The main character's closest friendships are violent and abusive, and those are the good parts of his life. There are a few references to his eventual life outside the factory job, but no real detail, and his changed life is still described as living in a filthy, cockroach and rat infested apartment in Shanghai with a girlfriend who doesn't really understand him. There is no breaking free, following of dreams, or any other positive outcome to the story. This is a life of daily violence, filth - both physical and mental, and oppression. I have to wonder if this is an accurate portrayal of life in modern China - if so, it's terrifying. If that's what you want to read about, go for it, just don't expect the story to be as described in the promotional reviews.
Young Babylon is a title I am still trying to figure out. Wealthy people are not in this book. The characters are factory.workers in the saccharin factory or the formaldehyde factory
Most of the characters are young and not much different than young Americans. For instance wanting to follow the latest fashions.
The main character goes from teenager to 30 years old.
This book has much humor and much sadness too.
I hope the author writes more books available to Americans. This book taught me a lot and took me far-away.
This was an enjoyable read, true literary fiction, with attention focused on characters rather than on a particular storyline. As some reviewers have pointed out, there is vulgarity throughout the book but it didn't bother me because it made the characters seem more real, less like the sweet, idyllic setting of Anne of Green Gables and more like working class people spending the bulk of their waking hours in a dire, mind-numbing situation. It made me wonder how close real life was captured in Young Babylon. It was interesting to note that the author was also a factory worker. Perhaps a lot of the story was semi-autobiographical.