One of the most-talked about works of fiction to emerge from China in recent years, this novel about an urban youth "displaced" to a small village in rural China during the Cultural Revolution is a fictionalized portrait of the author's own experience as a young man.
The book, the winner of several prizes in China, stubbornly resists analysis. To enter its pages is to cross into a world of bandits and ghosts, where ''rude'' means ''pretty,'' homosexuals are ''Red Flower Daddies'' and people don't die, they ''scatter.'' Cross-references abound, and slowly the novel emerges as one grand idiom. This is a meditation on the trapdoors of language and on the microhistories buried within words. Katherine Wolff