Tuesday, January 10, 2017

G502 Book Review of The Little Restaurant by Wang Anyi

General Information:

Name of Book: The Little Restaurant

ISBN: 978-1-60220-225-2

Publisher: Tuttle Publishing

Year it was published: 2010


Wang Anyi's short stories in The Little Restaurant illuminat the emotional and intellectual complexity of the lives of the multiple generations caught up in China. Some of her short stories describe the lives of young students caught in the Cultural Revolution who were sent away to rural communities across China to be educated and tempered in a hardscrabble existence; other stories revolve around the seemingly quiet lives of ordinary citizens in the city of Shanghai. In simple language and with an eye for detail, she describes their simple physical existence and their complex nterior lives. Her descriptions are often realistic, affectionate and vivid yet somehow they remain evocative and haunting. Creating poetry out of the ordinary and the mundane, her stories are at once both stark and deeply poetic.

Author: Wang Anyi

About the Author:
(From back of the book)

Wang Anyi, born in 1954, is currently vice-president of the Writers' Associaton of China, president of the Shanghai Writers' Association and professor at the Department of Chinese Language and Literature of Fudan University. In 1955 she moved with her mother to Shanghai. In 1970 under a government policy of the Cultural Revoltuion she was settled in rural Wuhe in Anhi Province. In 1972, recruited through a competitive examination, she joined the Xuzhou Regional Cultural Troupe of Jiangsu Province as a member of its musical band. In 1978 she was transferred to the China Welfare Institute Publishing House in Shanghai to be fiction editor for Children's Epoch magazine. In 1980 she attended the literature workshop of the Writers' Association of China. In 1983 she attended the international Writing Program of hte University of Iowa. In 1987 she was invited to be a professional writer of the Shanghai Writers' Association.

Her works, which began appearing in 1977, include more than 100 short stories, 40 novelettes, 10 novels and various prose pieces and essays. She has won numerous awards, her Who's the Future Squad Leader? won a National Children's Literature prize, The Last Stop of This Train won a National Short Story prize, Gone with the Tide and Xiaobao Village won the National Novella prize, Uncle's Story won a Shanghai Novel and Novella second prize, a A story from the Cultural Revolution and I Love Bill won a Shanghai Novel and Novella third prize, The Song of Eternal Regret won a Shanghai Literature and Art prize and a prize at the Fifth Mao Dun Literature Award. Her novel An Age of Enlightenment won her an Outstanding Writer award at the 2008 Chinese Language Literary Media Awards ceremony. Some ofher works have been translated into English, German, Dutch, French, Czech, Japanese, Korean and Hebrew.

1. The Little Restaurant

One Sentence Summary:

An unknown omniscient narrator describes a small corner of the location of the restaurant as well as people who inhabit that corner and their inner lives and turmoils.

2.The Story of Ah Qiao

One Sentence Summary:

In third person narrative the life of a young man by name of Ah Qiao is described. Ah Qiao is a man who suffered from polio which changed his life for the worse. The short story describes him from the time he is a baby to the time he is an adult and is tasked with giving a speech to his co-workers.

3. The Nest Fight

One Sentence Summary:

Auntie Xiaomei is an old woman who got turned out into the streets as soon as her mistress has died. Not having any family, she becomes desperate to procure a house in her old age and tries to use people to reach her goals.

4. Ah Fang's Light

One Sentence Summary:

In first person narrative, the narrator begins to recount how he always runs into a family and as time passes he describes their circumstances more and more.

5. The Grand Student

One Sentence Summary:

Daxiasheng  travels from Xibei with some migrants looking for a cousin of his, Li Wen'ge. Unable to discover his cousin, he decides to stay with the migrants but does little to help them out with their jobs. When he does think he can help the villagers by trying to talk some sense into them, he discovers that it's better if he kept his mouth shut.

6. Inhabitants of a Vintage Era

One Sentence Summary:

The story begins with a description of the passage of time, how things exist but then disappear. An unknown narrator, possibly a young child with an older sister visits the mother at a local movie theater but then they have to leave to get ice scream. After getting ice scream, they spot a couple-a man and a woman dressed in old fashioned clothes and they decide to follow them.

7. A Nuptial Banquet

One Sentence Summary:

In the village of Xiaogangshang during a rainy day a wedding is to take place, and a teacher invites some youths to the wedding. Description of some of the traditions of the wedding follow.

8. The Meeting

One Sentence Summary:

Sun Xiazi agrees to prepare food for a meeting of "three echelons" Descriptiion of Sun Xiazi's family follows, along with what she will wear to prepare food for the meeting and what happens during the day is also described.

9. Xiao Hong of the Village of Huayuan

One Sentence Summary:

In first person voice, the narrator describes the place where they live with others along how its laid out and the people surrounding the village. Description of Xiao Hong, who happened to be the granddaughter of an actor begins as well some incidents that Xiao Hong goes through.

Personal Opinion:

My favorite stories, I'll admit are the first four because they're unlike anything I've read before. There seems to a strange and beautiful luminescence about the stories and descriptions are very unique to other books I've read. I am confused as to the significance of the last five stories and didn't really like them all that much, unfortunately, but they're still a good read if one is seeking some fascinating cultural tidbits of China

This was given to me by Tuttle Publishing House 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.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for linking this review on my blog! Sounds like a good collection of stories. I appreciated the brief summaries.


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