Han Dong
Translated by Nicky Harman
Copyright Date: 2009
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    It is 1969 and China is in the throes of the Cultural Revolution. The Tao family is banished to the countryside, forced to leave comfortable lives in Nanjing to be reeducated in the true nature of the revolution by the peasants of Sanyu village. The parents face exile with stoicism and teach their son to embrace reeducation wholeheartedly. Is this simple pragmatism, an attempt to protect the boy and ensure his future? Or do the banished cadres really cling to their belief in their leaders and the ideals of the Revolution? These questions remain tantalizingly unanswered in this prize-winning first novel.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6155-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Translator’s Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Notes on Translation
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. ONE Banishment
    (pp. 1-19)

    In November 1969 the Tao family was banished, and Tao took them all to Sanyu village. Before their departure, Tao had drawn a circle on a map in red crayon. The place he had circled was a rag-shaped lake. “This is Hongze Lake, the third largest freshwater lake in China. That’s where we’re going,” Tao said.

    Half of Hongze Lake belonged to Hongze County, which was divided into a water-based commune and a dry-land commune. The Taos were to go to the dry-land commune, which, despite its name, was not really dry since it was crisscrossed with canals fed by...

  6. TWO The Enclosure
    (pp. 20-43)

    The Taos lived in the cowshed for nearly a year and began building a new home the next autumn. The project had been in the planning for some time. There was to be no skimping since, as Tao put it, they were to “dig in” here for many generations. But just what kind of a house was this going to be?

    The Sanyu villagers’ houses were built of mud bricks with thatched roofs. There were no buildings of fired bricks. You had to go to Xiaodunkou, where the stores were of bricks, to see those. The mud bricks for Sanyu...

  7. THREE Young Tao
    (pp. 44-62)

    Young Tao was born during the Three Years of Famine, when the Taos had no meat to eat. To buy meat you needed coupons. Each person got one coupon a month, and that would buy two ounces of meat. The Taos were a family of four, so they could buy eight ounces of meat per month. They saved up their coupons for young Tao’s birth.

    One day Tao found some one-pound cans of meat in a shop. Each can cost only four two-ounce meat coupons, so they could double their meat ration by buying it in a can. Overjoyed, Tao...

  8. FOUR Primary School
    (pp. 63-76)

    Young Tao had reached the third year of primary school before the family’s banishment to the countryside, but Sanyu’s primary school only had two classes, the first and second years. So it was not really a primary school, only half of one, or rather less than half of one since primary school then consisted of five years. After the second year students had to go to Gezhuang Primary, just over a mile away Because of the distance and the fact that the family had only just arrived in the village, Tao decided that his son should go to Sanyu Primary...

  9. FIVE Animals
    (pp. 77-99)

    Young Tao had several dogs during his time at Sanyu. The first was Patch. Patch’s mother was Lü Suying’s black and white dog. Young Tao had met the dog on their first day in Sanyu, when he fed her a bit of meat. So they were already acquainted when, the next spring, the bitch had a litter of puppies, and young Tao brought one home.

    Like his mother, Patch loved meat; unlike her, if he wanted some, he could get it. His mother had probably eaten only one bit of meat in her life, and that was the bit young...

  10. SIX The Farm Tools Factory
    (pp. 100-116)

    It was in Patch’s time that the One Strike, Three Antis campaign was launched. Su Qun was selected to join the commune propaganda team, and with another banished cadre, she moved to the farm tools factory in the town of Wangji Market. She cycled between Wangji Market and Sanyu on her Flying Pigeon bicycle, bringing things for the house she had bought in the market and taking back with her supplies of their own pickled cabbage, packed into jars and bottles, and a change of clothes.

    Whenever she came home, Su Qun was full of news from the commune headquarters....

  11. SEVEN Zhao Ningsheng
    (pp. 117-128)

    Young Tao was by now old enough to understand what his parents wanted for him. He did not play with the pigherding children anymore and would just say hello—even to September, Little Dick, and their friends—if he saw them. Even if he had wanted to play with them, there was no time. Early every day, he left for Gezhuang Primary with his school bag over his shoulders, and he did not get back until dusk. His friend now was the school’s Chinese language teacher, Zhao Ningsheng.

    Zhao was an urbling sent down from Nanjing, like young Li, except...

  12. EIGHT The Cleaning Bug
    (pp. 129-141)

    Grandpa Tao, Tao Wenjiang, was the oldest in the family He was sixty-nine the year they arrived in Sanyu (or seventy, the way country folk calculated it). He was also the tallest, at nearly five feet nine inches, and held himself ramrod straight. He had a full head of completely white hair, which was combed carefully back. Taciturn and with a naturally sober expression, he was a commanding figure. Before Liberation, he had been head teacher of a primary school in Nanjing. He had joined the KMT Party at one of its mass rallies and had served on a local...

  13. NINE “516”
    (pp. 142-165)

    One day when Grandpa Tao was waiting for Su Qun on the Yanma River embankment, a stranger approached him and asked the way to the Taos. Tall and thin and dressed in a Sun Yat-sen jacket that was much too big for him, he moved almost soundlessly.

    Grandpa Tao led the way to their enclosure. When Tao looked up and saw the new arrival, he greeted him with a volley of joyful exclamations. This was none other than his best friend, Hou Jimin, young Tao’s “Uncle Hou.” In the light of the kerosene lamp, his cheeks were so emaciated and...

  14. TEN Rich Peasants
    (pp. 166-180)

    The 516 investigation group did not come for Su Qun, but Tao got a visit from a party comrade. The man, wearing a polyester twill Sun Yat-sen suit and carrying a black briefcase, arrived with Yu the Sanyu brigade party secretary and Yu the Sanyu Number 1 Production Team leader. The family went outside and left them to their conversation. After a short while, the comrade stood up and left. The rest of the family came back inside and found Tao sitting in the front room, smoking silently. He looked shattered, as if someone had thumped him hard.

    The purpose...

  15. ELEVEN Striking Root
    (pp. 181-197)

    Yu Youfu was the poorest of the poor in Sanyu Village, apart from those men who could not afford a wife. Youfu did have a wife, and a son too. Their thatched, three-room house stood on its own to the west of the village. Just like those of the other villagers, their house was bordered on all sides by a stream. And just like the others, they had a plot of land in front and behind, on which they grew crops and vegetables.

    First, let me tell you about Mrs. Youfu. She had apparently been a prostitute in Wangji Market...

  16. TWELVE The Author
    (pp. 198-226)

    Tao wrote and published stories all his life, but the only book of his that was published was theCollected Works of Tao Peiyi.Tao himself never even saw this book, with its black cover and flame design in the top left-hand corner. Its publication was arranged after his death by the Writers Association.

    The book was a little over 300,000 characters long. Gathered at the back, in the lengthy appendixes, were memoirs and commemorative articles written by relatives and friends. There was also a play that Tao had co-written with someone else, also quite lengthy It was only the...

  17. THIRTEEN Conclusion
    (pp. 227-240)

    Shortly after young Tao’s departure for university, the remainder of the family (Tao, Su Qun, and Granny Tao) moved back to Nanjing.

    But had Tao not wanted to strike root in Hongze? The decision, however, was no longer up to him. He was now extremely feeble. Su Qun felt that he would get better medical treatment in Nanjing, so in spite of his protests she decided that they should move. Tao was transferred from Hongze Hospital directly to Nanjing Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine. Su Qun and Granny Tao moved in with relatives for the time being.

    Immediately after Tao...

  18. Excerpts from the Glossary in the Chinese Version of Banished!
    (pp. 241-246)
  19. Han Dong and the World of Chinese Literature
    (pp. 247-250)

    HAN DONG, born in 1961 in Nanjing, has been a major player on the modern Chinese literary scene since the 1990s. He is known primarily as one of China's most important avantgarde poets, one of the “Misty” group, and has for many years contributed to “unofficial” poetry journals, includingTodayandThem, which he edited. He is also an essayist, short story writer, and novelist.Banished!(entitledStriking Rootin the original Chinese) is his first novel.

    Much of contemporary Chinese literature reflects the hectic energy that powers post-reform China today, and it is by turns extravagant, brutal, cynical, nihilist,...

  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 251-254)