|Lao She's two novels published in English. (China Daily)|
English-language editions of two entertaining and insightful novels written by one of China's most accomplished novelists, the late Lao She, will soon be on bookshelves around the country.
Cat Country and Mr Ma and Son, translated respectively by two renowned scholars of Chinese literature, William A. Lyell and William Dolby, are being published by Penguin China.
Cat Country, arguably China's first foray into the realm of science fiction, revolves around a space traveler from China who crash-lands on an alien planet, where he discovers a country inhabited entirely by Cat People.
Soon befriended by a local Cat Man, he's introduced to a life featuring weird aspects such as the national language of Felinese, the narcotic food staple reverie leaves, and the previous three centuries happily known as the "Age of Plunder”, which are believed to form a bleak vision of the turbulent 1930s China.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and literary critic Ian Johnson says in the book's introduction, Lao She stretches himself further than ever, producing one of the most remarkable, perplexing and prophetic novels of modern China.
The sarcastic humor and allegorical writing are believed to be influenced by the late author's early experiences in London. Lao She taught Chinese at the University of London's School of Oriental Studies from 1924 to 1929, a time when the British still viewed China and the Chinese with strong mixture of distrust, contempt, guilt and fear after two opium wars and the Boxer Rebellion (1900).
It was there that he began his career as a writer of patriotic but complex fictions about contemporary China, writes University of London's senior Chinese literature lecturer Julia Lovell in the introduction of Mr Ma and Son, who calls it "the first Chinese novel to confront directly British racism toward China”.