Dictionary of Maqiao

Paperback
the multi-award winning novel by one of China's greatest living writers. A Dictionary of Maqiao (pronounced ma-chow) is the story of a young man sent to work the land in a small village in rural China during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). He encounters an upside-down world among the people of Maqiao, a primitive, superstitious society where words have opposite meanings and no action is what it seems: a conman dupes his neighbours into thinking that he has found the fountain of youth by convincing them that his father is in fact his son; men are known as 'savages' to be 'scientific' is to be lazy; time and relationships are understood using the language of food and its preparation; and to die young is considered 'sweet', while the aged reckon their lives to be 'cheap'. Each entry is a tiny, connected story, and as they build one upon another, the narrator meditates on the ability of a waidi ren (outsider) to understand or represent the ways of life of another community. What you're ultimately left with is an unforgettable, often hilarious, often tragic portrait of life in Maqiao during the Cultural Revolution, and a profound meditation on the power of language.