Yan Lianke is one of the most acclaimed writers of contemporary China—twice a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize, as well as the winner of the prestigious Franz Kafka Prize—and he has been lauded for his imaginative satire and perceptive cultural critique.The Explosion Chronicles tells the unforgettable tale of rival families competing in a greed-fueled race to convert their sleepy, rural community into a thriving super metropolis.
With the Yi River on one side and the Balou Mountains on the other, the remote village of Explosion was founded more than a millennium ago by refugees fleeing a seismic volcanic eruption. But in the post-Mao era, the name takes on surprising significance as the villagers aspire to transform their poor province into a bustling city of millions.
Behind this explosive expansion are the four Kong brothers, whose loyalty is tested when they set out to fulfill their individual destinies; Zhu Ying, a wealthy businesswoman and the daughter of the former village chief; and Cheng Qing, a secretary climbing the ranks to become an influential political figure. Linked together by a web of lies, vice, and ambition, they are the driving force behind their hometown’s transformation. And when Explosion’s progress begins to take a lethal toll,they are forced to confront the sacrifices they have made for power and money.
Brimming with absurdity, intelligence, and wit,The Explosion Chronicles is a riotous exploration of the high stakes of unbridled authority, the consequences of corruption, the polarizing dynamics of love and hate, and the seemingly unstoppable excesses of capitalist culture.
Yan Lianke is the author of numerous short story collections and novels, includingThe Four Books, Lenin’s Kisses, Serve the People!, andDream of Ding Village. Among many honors, he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize as well as two of China’s most prestigious literary honors, the Lu Xun prize and the Lao She award.
“[Yan Lianke’s] fiction has lampooned some of the darkest moments in Chinese history . . . In this latest work, however, Yan shifts his irreverent gaze from the past to the present and toward projections of the future, taking stock of China’s vertiginous economic rise and the astonishing dissolution of its collective social conscience . . . As with Yan’s previous novels, the formal inventiveness ofThe Explosion Chronicles is impressive and its fictional universe vividly drawn . . . I can think of few better novelists than Yan, with his superlative gifts for storytelling and penetrating eye for truth.” —Jiayang Fan,New York Times Book Review
“Charting the arc from unprincipled Communism to lawless capitalism, Yan employs hyperbolic touches that facetiously evoke legend.” —New Yorker
“A rip-roaring Swiftian satire from a contemporary Chinese master . . . Yan Lianke, one of China’s most forthright and versatile novelists, enlists extravagant comedy and far-fetched fable to propel his critique of a society where ‘power and money have colluded to steal people’s souls’ . . . The reader slips into a literary China of poetry and mystery that flourished long before the boom.” —Economist
“This darkly absurd history trucks freely with the fantastic . . . but many of the more brazen events are taken straight from the news . . . Yan’s burlesque of a nation driven insane by money is equally a satire of some of the excesses of the Chinese Revolution.” —Wall Street Journal
“A satire of ambition.” —Sacramento News
“Yan returns with renewed vigor to the job of lampooning communist orthodoxy, capitalist ambition, and ‘contemporary China's incomprehensible absurdity’ . . . [The Explosion Chronicles] has the absurdist feel of an Ionesco or DÃ¼rrenmatt piece, though without any of the heavy-handed obviousness . . . It can be read as a kind of Swiftian satire . . . Brilliant.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“An epic page-turner . . . a multi-layered marvel . . . combining unflinching observation [and] stinging satire . . . Yan’s mesmerizing ability to pull readers into this raw, subversive, not completely fictional world will continue to build his international audiences.” —Library Journal (starred review)