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Three Brothers


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The origin story of a childhood spent in poverty during the Cultural Revolution, from Yan Lianke, named 'China's most controversial novelist' by the New Yorker.

About the Author

Yan Lianke was born in 1958 in Henan Province, China. He is the author of numerous story collections and novels. Among his many accolades, he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize, was twice a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize, and has been shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Man Asian Literary Prize, and the Prix Femina tranger. He lives in Beijing.


'A master of imaginative satire. His work is animated by an affectionate loyalty to his peasant origins in the poverty-stricken province of Henan, and fierce anger over the political abuses of the regime.' * Guardian *
'Lianke paints vivid scenes of desolate circumstances with an incredible mastery of words and control of his imagery. His masterpieces are sure to engage readers.' * STARRED Review, Booklist on The Years, Months, Days *
'Full of love, sorrow, and tenderness, Yan Lianke's memoir offers a deeply heartfelt account of his family in the 1960s and 70s. Three Brothers is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand post-Mao China, and a new opportunity to experience more of what this extraordinary author conveys to us with his vivid and poetic style.' * Xiaolu Guo, author Once Upon a Time in the East *
'Yan depicts his provincial relatives with enormous heart and respect, acknowledging their sacrifices in a dark yet poignant meditation on grief and death...A memoir steeped in metaphor and ultimately tremendously moving.' * Kirkus Reviews *
'Unflinching self-examination...Yan is concerned with death in this arresting work, not only the death of loved ones, but of a whole moment in Chinese history that, for ever more young people, is incomprehensible and even non-existent...And as a peasant who was able to write himself out of the fields and into international celebrity, Yan poignantly shows that the most effective antidote to death is gratitude.' * Full Stop *
'A portrait of the emerging writer told with a beautiful simplicity reminiscent of Gorky's My Childhood.' * Age/SMH *
'[A] meditative, philosophical and poetic memoir.' * SA Weekend *
'A tender, frank and philosophical memoir' * Saturday Paper *
'Yan Lianke's story is told with grace, irony, wisdom and empathy hard to find elsewhere...Consistently excellent.' * Observer *
'Death-virulent, episodic, unbidden-haunts Yan Lianke's memoir Three Brothers...The work of memory is often laborious, its insights frequently uninvited, but memory relies on language, and Yan's can be inventive and even exquisite.' * Asian Review of Books *
'Disturbing, moving, and, in light of current circumstances, surprisingly resonant, Three Brothers provides a valuable insight into the writer, his country, and the historical and personal soil from which he and his novels spring.' * Otago Daily Times *

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