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To Live

To Live

by Yu Hua

Just as a mother beckons her children, so the earth beckoned the coming of night.


Yu Hua (photo: Michael Lionstar)

Yu Hua is one of China's most well-known authors and his bestselling novel, To Live, has been named one of China's ten most influential books of the last decade. The novel was made into a critically acclaimed film of the same name with China's best-known actress. It tells the poignant tale of a man's transformation from the spoiled son of a rich landlord to an honorable and kindhearted peasant as he and his family endure the ravages of war and starvation. Yu explains in a postscript that the idea for the novel came after he was deeply moved by an American folk song called "Old Black Joe" about a slave who lived through decades of hardships yet was still kind. "Though unmistakably Chinese," writes author Ha Jin, Yu's novels "are universally resonant."

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