“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

为人民服务 (lit. Serve the People)

Novel by Yan Lianke.

First published in the literary magazine 花城, which was briefly closed down because of it; now available only as a traditional-character edition from Hong Kong. Essentially, the big stink arose from the book's tarnishing of the military's image: the main character has an affair with an army official's wife. That wouldn't be so horrible if it weren't for the notorious Chapter Seven, in which the lovers smash idols of Mao and destroy symbols of the revolution in order to revive their waning sexual desire. You've got to admire Yan Lianke's guts (but perhaps suspect the 花城 editors' brains).

Translations:

Serve the People

Translated by Julia Lovell, February, 2008

Billed as sexy subversion, Serve the People won the dubious imprimatur of being banned by the government. You can read an excerpt from it on the Guardian's website here.

Publications

Serve the People Grove Press Feb. 2008 UK