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

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

小城好汉-英特迈往 (lit. A Small Town Hero Strides Forth)

Novel by Han Dong.

In some ways, this novel starts where Banished! left off, although it has a different set of characters and is bolder in scope and structure. Three boys, Zhu, Ding and the ‘I’ narrator, grow up together in a county town in the 1970s. As they become adults, however, the easy bonds of childhood friendship dissolve and their different backgrounds and characters force them apart: Zhu, the tough one, becomes a soldier but is eventually executed for murder; timid Ding struggles simply to survive; the narrator, from a more privileged background, dreams of becoming a famous artist. The society within which they live demands compromise from each of them – are any ideals worth hanging onto, and who is really the hero of the title? Humorous, ironic and shocking when you least expect it. NH