The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke

The dastardly history of the deeds behind the Chinese village of Explosion and its meteoric rise to become a city metropolis like Shanghai, Beijing, and Tokyo. It's written in the form of a dynastic history that court scribes were usually ordered to write on behalf of a Chinese dynasty, though this one is not flattering to the leaders of Explosion.

This satire is so dark, it's bleak, and overwhelming. It is awash in symbolism, sex, and violence. I enjoyed it, but didn't fall in love with this book. I always like a book that the Chinese government would hate, but this didn't have the wit and humour of others I've read. I can see why this book didn't win the Man Booker International Prize in 2017, rather the darkly humorous book “A Horse Walks into a Bar” won instead.

A better book in the 'criticism of party cadre's in China' is the lewd, but hilarious book “Party Members” by Arthur Meursault. Be warned, it's really sexually graphic but oh so funny. The main character is the penis of a CCP Cadre who believes his owner can do far better in politics than he is doing but back to this book...

I do really like Yan Lianke, and would recommend you read “Dream of Ding Village”, or “The Four Books” before this one. Those two books are a better showcase of his writing ability. This was certainly a forgettable read for me although I could see the concept he was trying to achieve.

Rating: ★★★ Book #48 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

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