The Boat to Redemption

The Boat to Redemption

3.18 (158 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Disgraced Secretary Ku has been banished from the Party - it has been officially proved he does not have a fish-shaped birthmark on his bottom and is therefore not the son of a revolutionary martyr, but the issue of a river pirate and a prostitute. Mocked by the citizens of Milltown, Secretary Ku leaves the shore for a new life among the boat people on a fleet of industrial barges. Refusing to renounce his high status, he maintains a distance - with Dongliang, his teenage son - from the gossipy lowlifes who surround him. One day a feral little girl, Huixian, arrives looking for her mother, who has jumped to her death in the river. The boat people, and especially Dongliang, take her to their hearts. But Huixian sows conflict wherever she goes, and soon Dongliang is in the grip of an obsession for her. He takes on Life, Fate and the Party in the only way he knows ...show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 480 pages
  • 126 x 194 x 32mm | 240.4g
  • Transworld Publishers Ltd
  • Black Swan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0552774545
  • 9780552774543
  • 306,880

About Su Tong

Born in 1963 in Suzhou and now living in Beijing with his family, Su Tong is one of China's most celebrated bestselling authors, shooting to international fame in 1993 when Zhang Yimou's film of his novella Raise the Red Lantern was nominated for an Oscar. His first short story collection, Madwoman on the Bridge was published by Black Swan in 2008. Translator Howard Goldblatt is Research Professor at the University of Notre Dame. He is the recipient of two translation fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and has been awarded the Translation of the Year Prize from the American Literary Translators Association and the Man Asian Literary Prize.show more

Review quote

"Su Tong writes beautiful, dangerous prose" -- Meg Wolitzer "What I admire most is Su Tong's style...His strokes are restrained but merciless. He is a true literary talent" -- Anchee Min "Powerful and elegant ...the world he so vividly depicts has the timelessness of a classical Chinese court painting" Independent "There is something soothing and insistent about the sound and feel of Su Tong's writing.Chinese customs and characters make the mood strange and different...Language, its feel and construction, flows like the river into the reader's imagination... [More] twists, turns and tragedies hold the reader's attention right to the end. The writing is superb, the word pictures of the river and its people memorable. And Yes, it could make great cinema" Sunday Express "The major achievement of this novel is Su Tong's decision to forgo his strength as a prose stylist and settle for a familiar story told in a familiar language. Despite the tendency of the younger generation to dismiss the cultural revolution as a bygone era, this recent past, with its cruelties and absurdities, still lives in the nation's memory. At his best, Su Tong is able to catch the tragedy and comedy of that time, using a highly political language: when the birthmark on Ku Wenxue's bottom disqualifies him as the martyr's son, the whole town goes through a craze of examining one another's bottoms in the toilets of municipal baths, while Dongliang, our private and sensitive narrator, reports, "I tightened my belt and heightened my vigilance," - a line that playfully combines two slogans from Mao's era. Dialogues filled with political cliches of the time are the highlight of the novel. In an extremely poignant exchange - both tragic and absurd - towards the end of the novel, the narrator, in order to steal the martyr's memorial stone, has a long argument with the town's idiot, who has for decades considered himself to be the real son of the martyr." Guardianshow more

Review Text

"Su Tong writes beautiful, dangerous prose"show more

Back cover copy

Disgraced Secretary Ku has been banished from the Party - it has been proven he does not have a fish-shaped birthmark on his bottom and is therefore not the son of a revolutionary martyr, but of a river pirate and a prostitute. Secretary Ku and his teenage son, Dongliang, leave the shore for a new life among the boat people on the Golden Sparrow River. One day a feral little girl, Huixian, arrives looking for her mother, who has jumped to her death in the river. Huixan sows conflict wherever she goes, and soon Dongliang is in the grip of an obsession for her. He takes on Life, Fate and the Party in the only way he knows...show more

Rating details

158 ratings
3.18 out of 5 stars
5 9% (15)
4 28% (44)
3 38% (60)
2 21% (33)
1 4% (6)
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