the new novel from the Nobel Prize-winning author of international bestseller Soul Mountain The unnamed narrator of this book recalls his Beijing boyhood, his tenth birthday, the death of his grandfather, the accidental drowning of his mother and the effect all this trauma had on the frail, sensitive young boy he was then. He then pulls us forward in time to view the sexually active adult he has become, engaged in a series of difficult relationships, in constant trouble with the Chinese authorities, and in danger of being marked out as a 'counter-revolutionary'. The book moves between the nightmare of the Cultural Revolution insanities of the late 1960s and early 1970s to the tentative, limited liberations of the 1990s, and the narrator moves between China, Hong Kong, Paris and Frankfurt. Through it all throbs an overwhelmingly powerful sense of the past, distant and near, and a moving and unprecedented insight into the character of modern China. * Gao has his narrator say of the book's purpose: 'Your writing is not in the cause of pure literature, but you're also not a fighter using your pen as a weapon to promote right, moreover you don't know what's right. You know you're certainly not the embodiment of right and you write simply to indicate that a sort of life worse than a quagmire, more real than an imaginary hell, more terrifying than the judgement of the last day has existed. Furthermore, it's highly likely that after people have forgotten about it, it will make a comeback, and people who've never gone crazy will go crazy again, and people who've never been oppressed will oppress or be oppressed. This is because madness has existed since the birth of humanity.'