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Publisher's Summary

An essential masterwork from Chinese literary giant Lu Yao - winner of the Mao Dun Literature Prize - available for the first time in English.

Lu Yao published only two novels before his untimely death - but their extraordinary influence catapulted the author to the top tier of Chinese contemporary fiction, establishing him as one of the most widely read and respected figures in Chinese literature. 

In this first-ever translation of Lu Yao’s Life, we meet Gao Jialin, a stubborn, idealistic, and ambitious young man from a small country village whose life is upended when corrupt local politics cost him his beloved job as a schoolteacher, prompting him to reject rural life and try to make it in the big city. Against the vivid, gritty backdrop of 1980s China, Lu Yao traces the proud and passionate Gao Jialin’s difficult path to professional, romantic, and personal fulfillment - or at least hard-won acceptance. 

With the emotional acuity and narrative mastery that secured his reputation as one of China’s great novelists, Lu Yao paints a vivid, emotional, and unsparing portrait of contemporary Chinese life, seen through the eyes of a working-class man who refuses to be broken.

©1982 Lu Yao (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved. Translation © 2019 by Chloe Estep.

What listeners say about Life

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  • david h
  • 10-07-2021

Terrible performance of a 5-stsr story

Audible should replace this version of Lu Yao's excellent story about the life and loves of Gao Jia Ling. The text juxtaposes the evolution of Jia Ling's romantic triangle with that of the lives of rural peasants in any valley of China's mountains south of, say, Hebei. As the former brigade system imposed by the Party under Mao opens up, bringing new opportunities for mobility and also corrupt nepotism, educated villagers like Jia Ling are faced with new possibilities. Unfortunately Jia Ling falls victim to petty jealousy and at the end of the book is left facing a life of labour.

Enjoyment of this audiobook is destroyed by Robert Wu's awful characterizations and unnecessary imposition of Chinese tones on the names of all characters. Very distracting and very annoying.

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  • Andrew M.
  • 04-03-2021

Hidden Gem

I don't normally review audiobooks but I just finished Life by Lu Yao and I thought it was really something special. You get to see a drastically different way of life than most of us are used to, but on the other hand the problems of the characters are very much universal and easy to relate to.

I found the narrator Robert Wu to be excellent. At first the tonal Mandarin pronunciation of names was a bit off-putting, but I came to appreciate it. It gives the work a very unique feel. It's true some of the voices are a bit cartoony, but that does a good job of making each character feel unique. And the narrator is still able to convey a great deal of emotion in the characters' words. A few of the scenes were absolutely heart-wrenching and brought tears to my eyes.

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  • Parents of three
  • 07-02-2021

Comical narration, but good story

The narrator’s voice went into cartoon-funny mode with some characters. Weird. But the story was good - sad and timeless. Kindness in the midst of heartache. Forgiveness and understanding, even though nothing will ever be the same. I didn’t expect that ending. Not exactly a happily ever after ending. But at the same time, an ending full of love. Read it. See for yourself.

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  • Michelle
  • 10-08-2020

Surprised

I bought this book by accident. I am not fiction reader so I didn’t i would like this book. But I was pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t put the book down and finished it nearly in on sitting. Excellent story about love and life set in China. If anything, one should read this to help raise cultural awareness and understanding. Lovely story. Highly recommend.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Barbara McQueen
  • 23-05-2020

Not My Cup of Tea

I liked the exposure to Chinese life during its revolutionary past, and there were some interesting insights about attitudes toward relationships and class, but I had very little sympathy for the heartaches most of the main characters caused themselves and the very vulgar language that regularly popped up.

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