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

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

原谅我红尘颠倒 (lit. Dancing Through Red Dust)

Novel by Murong Xuecun.

In this tale of murky goings-on in the courts in China, a young man from the countryside, the ‘I’ of the story, hauls his way out of poverty and eventually becomes a top lawyer, by dint of bribing judges with money and girls. His judge friend, one of the few who are incorruptible in a system riddled with corruption, is less canny: when he finds out that his wife has tried to advance his career by sleeping with his boss, he breaks the man’s ribs – and is relegated to desk work in a remote back-water. Eventually even our hero cracks: ‘Our generation’ he says, ‘start doing wrong from the moment we’re born. I’ve had an enormously successful career, but if I could choose, I would rather I’d never been born.’ His reckless misdeeds land him in trouble for the last time when he kills a man – and faces the death sentence meted out by one of the very judges whose venality helped him build his career.

A dark story, enlivened by racy dialogue, as unflinching as his earlierLeave Me Alone, Chengdu – and just as contemporary.

Translations:

Dancing Through Red Dust

Translated by Harvey Thomlinson

In this tale of murky goings-on in the courts in China, a young man from the countryside, the ‘I’ of the story, hauls his way out of poverty and eventually becomes a top lawyer, by dint of bribing judges with money and girls. His judge friend, one of the few who are incorruptible in a system riddled with corruption, is less canny: when he finds out that his wife has tried to advance his career by sleeping with his boss, he breaks the man’s ribs – and is relegated to desk work in a remote back-water. Eventually even our hero cracks: ‘Our generation’ he says, ‘start doing wrong from the moment we’re born. I’ve had an enormously successful career, but if I could choose, I would rather I’d never been born.’ His reckless misdeeds land him in trouble for the last time when he kills a man – and faces the death sentence meted out by one of the very judges whose venality helped him build his career.

A dark story, enlivened by racy dialogue, as unflinching as his earlierLeave Me Alone, Chengdu – and just as contemporary.

Publications

Dancing Through Red Dust Make-Do Publishing Dec. 2015 UK