Paper Republic: Chinese Literature Matters

Asian Review of Books Reviews The Day the Sun Died

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Despite Yan’s demurred (and understandable) aversion to political interpretations, the novel’s critical intent is self-evident. “Dreamwalking” inverts President Xi Jinping’s much-vaunted though nebulous “Chinese Dream” with horrifying effect. At one point, Niannian’s dreamwalking aunt and uncle prepare four dishes and a soup laced with an insecticide for their fellow Gaotian ruling elites, who, unlike the villagers, eat and socialize rather than steal and kill. Although the expression “four dishes and a soup” dates to the Ming Dynasty, President Xi has used it as a coded exhortation towards modesty and frugality amongst Party elites. As Niannian observes early in his narrative, “Everybody believed in dreams, but didn’t believe in reality. It was all quite odd.”

attached to: Ri Xi


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