Wanted to to share a few short passages from Yan Lianke's novel. The first is a dream sequence; the second, a poem. The translation is almost finished. Only a week to go, as I race toward the finish line (and try not to stumble). -C
The night the tomb was robbed, grandpa had a dream:
The sky was filled with bright red suns. There were five, six, seven, eight, nine of them, crowding the sky and scorching the plain below. Drought had left the soil parched and cracked. Across the plain and well beyond, crops had died, wells run dry and rivers vanished. In an effort to banish the suns from the sky, to rid the sky of all the suns but one, strong young men had been chosen from each village, one man for every ten villagers. Armed with pitchforks, spades and scythes, they chased the suns across the plain, trying to drive them to the ends of the earth, topple them from the sky, and toss them into the ocean. Because surely, one sun in the sky was enough.
As grandpa stood at the entrance to the burial chamber, he remembered a bit of doggerel he'd heard as a child. It was an old folk saying here on the plain, a truism passed from generation to generation:
When graves are robbed of treasure,
there's not enough treasure to go around.
When graves are robbed of coffins,
there are too many coffins to be found.