Wonderful second novel from the author of the best-selling BALZAC & THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS.
Dai Sijie's bestselling and much loved first novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, was a delightful fable. His second is a Chinese Don Quixote following the peripatetic misadventures of Mr Muo, China's first psychoanalyst.
It's over ten years since Muo has visited his native China. He's been in Paris, exploring his subconscious and devouring the works of Freud and Lacan. But he knew the idyll couldn't last. When Muo hears that his his first great love has been thrown into a Chinese jail for selling a newspaper article to the foreign press, he feels he must rush home and rescue her. He returns to a China where everyone is corruptible, provided you find the right bribe. Sadly, the $10,000 Muo offers Judge Di to free his beloved aren't enough. The judge, tired of cash and cars, orders Muo to bring him a virgin girl to satisfy his sexual predilection for the unsullied. Thus begins a series of hilarious adventures as Muo goes in search of a virgin, setting himself up as an itinerant interpreter of dreams and losing his own virginity in the process.
Witty, surreal, moving, wonderfully picaresque, it is packed full of stories, anecdote, incident and mishap, all resulting in a highly enjoyable satire of one innocent man's attempt to negotiate the mind-boggling maze of modern China.
“A literary road movie...veers from hilarious to horrific”
“Allusive, intelligent, and very funny; comedy in the service of entertainment”
“Memorable and often startlingly beautiful”
Scotland on Sunday
“Some of the best passages are, like this, sensuous and plainly descriptive. There is a fantastic mini-essay on the aphrodisiac qualities of the sea cucumber”
Toby Litt, Guardian
“Unusually for a comic novel, it grips like a thriller and has some page-turningly tense moments... a significant book, as well as an eccentric one”
“Well-crafted, often hilarious and surreal”
“a reading experience that evokes contemporary China with absurdist exactitude”