Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
March 21, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Serve the People!

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Yan Lianke
publisher
Grove Press
genre
History, Fiction, Comic Novels

We gave it a B+

This searing satire of Communist China, circa 1967, has been banned there for supposed slander of Mao and the army, not to mention its sex content! While the political sentiments are unlikely to shock a Westerner, the love story at the center — about a servant who hooks up with the wife of his high-ranking boss — is a universal depiction of passion’s irrationality and pain. ”Perhaps, in very particular circumstances,” Yan Lianke writes, ”emotional truth can shine only through the curtain of farce” — something Serve the People! achieves with deft humor and great elegance. B+

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