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A Chinese One Hundred Years of Solitude, following a reindeer-herding tribe as they come to terms with the transformations in modern China over the last century.

The Right Bank of the Argun tells the extraordinary epic story of a ninety-year old woman from the Evenki tribe of north-eastern China, as she looks back over the changes that have come to pass for her and her family over the previous decades. As a child she lived a simple life with her parents, although she later comes to learn that relationships between her mother, father and uncle were not as straightforward as they first seemed. These days were spent secluded in the forests, hunting and tending the reindeer, with only the occasional incursion from the outside world in the form of visits from the Russian merchants who passed through. However in the 1930s dramatic changes occur when the Japanese army invades China. The Evenki cannot avoid being pulled into the brutal conflict which marks the first step towards the end of their isolation. The dramas and tragedies of the narrator’s family and friends are set against the backdrop of an world that begins to change rapidly in the 1950s and 60s as roads are built, the forests are raided for timber and the Cultural Revolution leads to intellectuals being sent from the cities to live among the tribespeople.The narrator’s children and grandchildren find themselves increasingly drawn to come down from the mountains and begin a more ‘civilised’ life in the cities. The Right Bank of the Argun paints a vivid portrait of the life and death of the narrator’s clan, the loves and losses of its people, and the pressures brought to bear on the Evenki’s natural environment and customs. It gives an incredible insight into a world that is rapidly vanishing and stands as a magnificent tribute to wild life and its confrontation with history, civilisation and development.

Reviews

Zijian has an extraordinary gift for storytelling and her steely narrator is a true heroine, surviving war and encroaching modernity. Simply magnificent

Kate Saunders, Times

An atmospheric modern folk-tale, the saga of the Evenki clan of Inner Mongolia – nomadic reindeer herders whose traditional life alongside the Argun river endured unchanged for centuries... This is a fitting tribute to the Evenki by a writer of rare talent

Financial Times

Chi Zijian's beautifully realised novel offers a detailed portrait of a way of life hard to imagine today…It was surely no easy task to make this ancient, wise narrator sound convincing in English. Bruce Humes's skilful translation is pitch-perfect

Independent

This is a beautifully simple book offering a detailed yet unromantic picture ... The setting is spectacularly rendered and this idyllic corner of China is as prominent as any other character in the book

We Love This Book

Masterfully told, with simplicity and empathy, in a direct and credible voice that not only feels unlike a translation, but unlike a fiction at all

Independent on Sunday

One of the most extraordinary novels you are likely to read for quite some time...touching, absolutely fascinating.

Asian Review of Books

When you open this book you can feel the grandmother’s breath and hear the hidden voices of the women of the Evenki tribe of northeast China – a moving story told by a great Chinese writer

Xinran, author of The Good Women of China

Enthrallingly evoked

Jane Housham, Guardian

[A] remarkable story…. Zijian’s language is infused with natural images of her native China

Freya McClements, Irish Times

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099555650

    March 3, 2014

    Vintage

    320 pages

    RRP $22.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781448137589

    January 17, 2013

    Vintage Digital

    320 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

Also by Chi Zijian

The Kitchen and Other Stories: China Library

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