Shuo Wang Playing for Thrills

ISBN 13: 9780140269710

Playing for Thrills

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9780140269710: Playing for Thrills

Wang Shuo emerged as a literary force in China in the late 1980s, pioneering a movement known as pizi wenxue, or hooligan literature. Instead of ascribing to the Communist Party's goal of "spiritual civilization," he shunned the heroic models common in Chinese literature. Playing for Thrills is the first book published in English from the man whom Newsweek calls "China's literary bad boy" and The Washington Post acclaims as "the irreverent voice of a disillusioned generation." With shades of Chandler and Kerouac, Playing for Thrills is a dark, disembodied, yet compelling story of an antihero's search for the truth about a mysterious murder. As the narrator drifts through the seamy underside of Beijing and its environs, he meets a handful of incredibly varied characters as jaded and enigmatic as himself.

* Banned by the Chinese Government for "pander[ing] to low tastes," Wang Shuo's work is increasingly popular in China and worldwide
* In China, his more than twenty bestsellers have sold nearly ten million copies and a dozen of his books have been turned into TV soap operas and films

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Review:

Here's a book that succeeds on several different levels: as a gripping (if slightly eccentric) thriller, as a political statement, and as a social document about the way people can lead colorful and dangerously exciting underground lives even in a repressive country. Wang Shuo is a pioneer in what China has labeled "hooligan literature," writing novels, movie scripts, television series, and songs about people and subjects deemed so unfit for public consumption that his work is officially banned (although widely popular). Playing for Thrills, the first of his books to appear in English, is narrated by a former soldier and current wise guy named Fang Yan, who spends his time gambling, eating, drinking, trying to have sex, and wondering if he was indeed involved in the murder of a former army buddy 10 years ago, as the police seem to think. In Howard Goldblatt's lively translation, the author's dialogue has the snap of enhanced reality: "Not so fast," says a character called Fat Man Wu as he describes the small, exclusive "party" that he and Fang Yan belong to. "With us it's instinct. Sooner or later every member of our party cools his heels in jail--that's how we keep things jumping politically." --Dick Adler

About the Author:

Wang Shuo's more than twenty novels have sold nearly ten million copies. He has also written television series, scripts for movies (two of which were recently banned), and songs. Born in Nanjing in 1958, he spent four years in the navy and held a variety of odd and shady jobs, while starting to write. Beloved by Chinese students and workers alike for celebrating the "dark corners of new China" ( Newsweek), he has never lost touch with the world of the low-life slackers who populate his fiction. Wang Shuo lives in Beijing with his wife and daughter.

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