The Seventh Day

The Seventh Day

3.92 (2,079 ratings by Goodreads)
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From the acclaimed author of "Brothers" and "To Live: " a major new novel that limns the joys and sorrows of life in contemporary China.
Yang Fei was born on a moving train. Lost by his mother, adopted by a young switchman, raised with simplicity and love, he is utterly unprepared for the tempestuous changes that await him and his country. As a young man, he searches for a place to belong in a nation that is ceaselessly reinventing itself, but he remains on the edges of society. At age forty-one, he meets an accidental and unceremonious death. Lacking the money for a burial plot, he must roam the afterworld aimlessly, without rest. Over the course of seven days, he encounters the souls of the people he's lost.
As Yang Fei retraces the path of his life, we meet an extraordinary cast of characters: his adoptive father, his beautiful ex-wife, his neighbors who perished in the demolition of their homes. Traveling on, he sees that the afterworld encompasses all the casualties of today's China--the organ sellers, the young suicides, the innocent convicts--as well as the hope for a better life to come. Yang Fei's passage maps the contours of this vast nation--its absurdities, its sorrows, and its soul. Vivid, urgent, and panoramic, "The Seventh Day" affirms Yu Hua's place as the standard-bearer of modern Chinese fiction.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 127 x 234 x 23mm | 363g
  • Bantam Books Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0804197865
  • 9780804197861
  • 1,118,258

Review quote

"Entertaining and intriguing. . . . A novel that is quietly critical of contemporary China. Mr. Yu never resorts to finger-wagging--the characters we meet are enough to portray a society on the verge of spiritual bankruptcy, a state riddled with corruption. This sensitivity comes across clearly in the English version, thanks to the wonderful translation work of Allan H. Barr. . . . In a time when increased censorship hampers the work of journalists in China, fiction offers another way to tell the story of now. That's ultimately what makes Mr. Yu's departure from epic so timely: In narrowing his lens, his work carries new urgency."
--Cameron White," The Wall Street Journal"
"Surreal. . . . Contains many instances of macabre comedy. . . . Yu's most devastating critique of the new Chinese reality."
--Ken Kalfus, " The New York Times Book Review"
"By turns inventive and playful and dark and disturbing, with much to say about modern China. . . . Yu's prose remains elegant and sharp. The humor is often bawdy, but feels right in this disquieting book that is both deeply personal and deeply political. . . . Yu doesn't shy away from the harshness of modern China--but he also highlights the humanity and kindness of ordinary people, their small everyday struggles, and their refusal to bow before the diktats of the government."
--Nishant Dahiya, NPR
"Yang Fei, the hapless narrator of this absurdist novel, is a dead man. He arrives late to his own cremation and later discovers that he has neither an urn nor a burial plot. For seven days, Yang wanders among the 'deleted dead, ' taking stock of his life and seeking the cause of his death. He encounters people similarly stranded between life and death, including many who come from the margins of Chinese society--migrant workers, an abused peasant turned urban outlaw. 'Dying is such an expensive business these days, ' one of the dead muses. Ordinary Chinese lives, Yu's tale seems to suggest, come surprisingly cheap."
--"The New Yorker"
"A political allegory for life--and death--experienced in the chaos of a rapidly changing modern China."
--Stephen J. Lyons, "Minneapolis Star Tribune"
"Beautifully written. . . . Moving. . . . [A] journey through one man's life in contemporary China. . . . A man who starts out as seemingly alone and unloved is suddenly revealed to us as a man who lived a full life and was, indeed, loved."
--Abigail Dalton, "Everyday eBook"
"Yang Fei is dead, and the notice on his apartment door directs him to report to the funeral parlor the next day for his cremation. Stuck in a shadowy limbo, able to see and interact with both the living and the dead, people such as Yang have no relatives to mourn them or arrange for their proper burial. Thus they are fated to endlessly roam an afterlife in which they encounter both loved ones and casual acquaintances. For Yang, this means a prolonged search for the father who raised him and the wife who divorced him. Listening to the life stories of the people he meets, Yang is exposed to a riotous panoply of crimes and betrayal, from graft and corruption to greed and consumerism, that contributed to their deaths. With a mesmerizing vision of what the afterworld might look like, internationally award-winning novelist Hua ("Boy in the Twilight," 2014) crafts a discerning critique of contemporary Chinese culture through an evocative allegory revealing fates much worse than death."
"Arguably China's best-known contemporary writer ("To Live," adapted into Zhang Yimou's acclaimed film; the Man Asian Prize-shortlisted "Brothers"), Yu offers a new work that is surprisingly gentler than his previous titles. Although the author retains his signature outlook of an absurdist new China with little regard for humanity--27 fetuses floating down a river, iPhones worth more than life, kidney harvesting from willing young bodies--this latest is ultimately less graphic exposE and more poignant fable about family bonds made not of blood ties but unbreakable heartstrings. It will assuredly reward Yu's readers, familiar and new."
--"Library Journal "(starred review)
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About Yu Hua

Yu Hua is the author of five novels, six story collections, and four essay collections. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He has received many awards, including the James Joyce Award, France's Prix Courrier International, and Italy's Premio Grinzane Cavour. Yu Hua lives in Beijing.
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Rating details

2,079 ratings
3.92 out of 5 stars
5 30% (619)
4 41% (851)
3 23% (472)
2 5% (94)
1 2% (43)
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