Yan, Afield

By Eric Abrahamsen, published

The Guardian's Hay festival coverage starts off with a big picture of Yan Lianke, looking like he's pretending he belongs there. The first of their excerpts from Hay-festival attendees comes from Julia Lovell's translation of his novel Serve the People. We're going to see if we can post some comments from Yan himself on the whole Hay experience, once he's back in China.

Edit: That picture seems to have been taken in China. He belongs there after all, guess that’s just his regular expression.


# 1.   

It's exciting to see both Zhu Wen and Yan Lianke at the Hay-on-Wye festival this year. As some of you know, I'm currently translating Yan Lianke's novel Dream of Ding Village (working title). The voice is very different from Serve the People; I think that readers will be surprised - and I hope pleased - to compare the two novels and realize what an extraordinary range Yan Lianke has as an author.

Although it's probably bad ju-ju to post an excerpt from a book that hasn't been edited or published, here's a little bit of what I've been working on today (in the voice of a deceased twelve-year-old narrator):

"And then there were nine. The ninth thing my grandpa realized was that in a year, or maybe two, the fever would explode all across the plain. It would burst upon us like a flood, engulfing Ding Village, Willow Village, Yellow Falls, Li Er hamlet and countless others in its path. Like the Yellow River jumping its banks, it would surge through dozens, maybe hundreds of villages and hamlets. And when that happened, people would die like ants. The dead would litter the plain like so many autumn leaves. Their light extinguished, gone from this world, cascading to their death like leaves from trees. In time, most of the villagers would die, and Ding Village would vanish from the earth forever. The people of Ding Village were so many leaves upon a dying tree..."

Cindy Carter, May 28, 2008, 4:19p.m.


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