Multi-prizewinning and internationally acclaimed Yan Lianke — ‘China’s most controversial novelist’ (New Yorker) — returns with a campus novel like no other following a young Buddhist as she journeys through worldly temptation.
To tell the truth, religious faith is really just a matter of believing stories. The world is governed by stories, and it is for the sake of stories that everyone lives on this earth.
Yahui is a young Buddhist at university. But this is no ordinary university. It is populated by every faith in China: Buddhists, Daoists, Catholics, Protestants and Muslims who jostle alongside one another in the corridors of learning, and whose deities are never far from the classroom.
Her days are measured out making elaborate religious papercuts, taking part in highly charged tug-of-war competitions between the faiths and trying to resist the daily temptation to return to secular life and abandon the ascetic ideals that are her calling. Everything seems to dangle by a thread. But when she meets a Daoist student called Mingzheng, an inexorable romance of mythic proportions takes hold of her.
In this profoundly otherworldly novel, Chinese master Yan Lianke remakes the campus novel in typically visionary fashion, dropping readers into an allegorical world ostensibly far from our own, but which reflects our own questions and struggles right back at us.