Sunday, February 7, 2016

G505 Book Review of Goodbye, Xu Hu! by Zhao Changtian

General Information:

Name of Book: Goodbye, Xu Hu!

ISBN: 978-1-60220-219-1

Publisher: Better Link Press

Year it was published: 2010


This collection of Chinese novellas presents two stories by the president of the Shanghai Writing Association address the question of how we must live with the past:

Goodbye, Xu Hu!
Twenty years ago, a man serving in the PeopleAEs Liberation Army met his first love, the energetic and charming Xu Hu. In those two decades both their paths diverged until a chance meeting in a restaurant in Shanghai. As the man recalls his time as a young soldier he wonders whether he and Xu Hu can rekindle the flame of their past.

No Explanation Is Necessary
Lao Wei on the surface appeared to be an ordinary hospital janitor. However, after a chance sighting at a subway station a writer learns that this simple janitor is much more than he appears to be. After returning to the hospital the writer learns of Lao WeiAEs past, his triumphs and failures and his loss. Lao Wei has the power to change his current circumstances, but can he regain everything? Including that which was most important to him?

Author: Zhao Changtian

About the Author:
(From the back of the book)

Born in 1947, Zhao CHangtian is a member of the National Committee of the Chinese Writers' Association, vice chairman of the Shanghai Writers' Association, vice president of the Shanghai Literature Development Fund, president of the Shanghai Writing Association, chief editor of Mengya Magazine and a part-time professor at East China Normal University. He joined Shanghai Writers' Association in 1985.

Some of Zhao Changtian's most famous works include: Collections of Stories: Exterior Image, Gate of Heaven, A Nostalgic Journey; Novels: Dream of Sangharama, Desntiy, Not a Confession, The Accident. Collections of Essays: Transition Years, Mid-autumn, Autumn Waters on a Clear Day, Contemplating the world with six eyes, City that never ages, looking up; Biography: Lonely Foreigner; Film Scripts: Look Life in the Face, Seeking Maria.

His novel Not a Confession was awarded at the third Shanghai Grand Awards for Excellent Novels and Novellas. His film script Look Life in the Face won second prize at the fifth Xia Yan Film Writing Awards. The film itself won a national Huabiao Film Award, also known as Stele Award.

1. Goodbye, Xu Hu!

One Sentence Summary:

In first person narrative, a young man by the name of Zhou Shuting meets up with a long-lost love in an unlikely place and begins recounting the past and present that the two have and are sharing. But what will happen when the chance to rekindle their romance comes again?

2. No Explanation is Necessary

One Sentence Summary:

In a first person narrative, a young writer who is in a hospital for his father begins a curious relationship with Lao Wei who at first appears an ordinary janitor, but then as the writer gets to know him more and more, Lao Wei becomes something else entirely.

Personal Opinion:

I personally liked both of the stories, that of Goodbye, Xu Hu! as well as No Explanation is Necessary, although if I'm really pressed to choose a favorite, I'd go for Goodbye, Xu Hu! Although the stories themselves are complex and very well written and also the author did a good job in leaving no stones un-turned, its amazing that the messages of the stories are of simple nature, which I will not spoil. The book, only 205 pages long, is also good for people who are looking for an intellectual read but do not have a lot of time to commit to reading.

This was given to me by Tuttle Company for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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