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Via ".@eenderinwales"

Hello there. Hope you’re feeling well today.I borrowed this book from the local library at 12:30 yesterday.

The Years Months Days – Yan Lianke

By 7:30 that evening I’d finished it.

Now it’s a thin book. And I wasn’t reading all through that period. Just when I had breaks. But when I had breaks I had to read it. I’ve not been so gripped by a book since American Psycho.

The story is simple. There’s a drought in a Chinese village. Indeed a drought so bad that everyone in that village leaves except for an old man who knows he couldn’t survive the trek and a blind dog. This is where the book starts. One old man and his dog, and their fight to survive.

The book it’s translator (Carlos Rojas – who incidentally does a brilliant job – the art of a translator is when you forget it’s been translated) refers to in comparison is Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. Both explore the themes of isolation, friendship and the struggles to just live in the event of a disaster.

(It’s not a spoiler alert to say that whilst the old man and his dog face opponents they’re not of the vampire kind. Of course the biggest villain here is the sun)

Some of Mr Lianke’s books (as Mr Rojas tells us in his introduction) have been banned in China. This hasn’t. Though whether you could put the barren landscape as an allegory of authoritarian Chinese Communist rule, or authoritarian Chinese capitalist rule with a Communist face. I’ve no idea. The point though is as an allegory or not. It works.

This is truly the most beautiful and moving book I’ve read this year. I’ve not heard of Mr Lianke before. I’ll make sure I’ll hear from him again.

Until the next time.