Announcing himself as “one of the least-educated young writers in China,” Lu Nei seems to have profited rather than lost by a life that began in struggle. Since the age of 19 he held a series of menial jobs around China—drifting, exploring, fighting, and observing. His interest in literature began while he had a job watching dials in a factory, and plenty of reading time on his hands. Even now, with a certain level of critical success under his belt, he refuses to give up his day job in an advertising company.
Born in Suzhou, that city provides common background for two of his novels, Young Babylon 少年巴比伦 (translated by Poppy Toland) and On the Trail of Her Travels 追随她的旅程. The first recounts the semi-farcical adventures of a young man much like himself, while the second is the story of a group of disaffected youth in a small town, who suddenly decide to take their futures into their own hands… His novel A Tree Grows in Daicheng 花街往事 was published in English in 2017, translated by Poppy Toland.
Bio from Paper Republic
For this month’s bookclub, we’re very grateful to Read Paper Republic and Pathlight Magazine for letting us reprint ‘Keep Running, Little Brother’ 阿弟,你慢慢跑, translated by Rachel Henson. You can read it in both Chinese and in English translation.
We’re also delighted that Lu Nei and Rachel will be joining us at our Book Review Network residential weekend, on March 17th-18th, where Young Babylon (Amazon Crossing, trans. Poppy Toland) is one of the four books which our reviewers will be discussing. The reviews, plus others from our bookclub members, will be posted on our book reviews page, so watch this space!
Young Babylon was also an ‘And Other Stories’ bookclub choice.
‘Young Babylon, Lu Nei’s first book, was published in 2007. It has been described by book reviewers as a Chinese Catcher in the Rye. It’s a wry, slightly detached story narrated by the teenage Lu Xiaolu, who aims to work his way up from factory worker to cadre, just so he can spend all day in an office drinking tea and reading the paper. The book is an off-beat view into the lives and aspirations (or lack thereof) of this 1970s generation.’ (From And Other Stories)