Sample translated by Nicky Harman

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Han Dong's surreal and rudely funny new novel, due out April 2010.

In 1968, Xiaofei, like millions of other high-school students (‘educated youth’) is sent down, on Chairman Mao Zedong’s orders, to a remote vil- lage to ‘learn from the poor and lower middle peasants’. The village has just one ox, Girlie, faithfully cared for by a peasant so poor that he can’t afford to marry and shares the ox’s accommodation, the cowshed. Bored by the monotony of country life, the students start mischievous rumours that they have been screwing Girlie the ox. This schoolboy joke goes wrong when Girlie falls sick: the ‘educated youth’ are accused of sabotaging pro- duction by raping the animal and causing her to break down. The blame is pinned on Xiaofei…

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