Characters come alive in lively language and dialect
Updated: 2012-05-02 08:09
By Liu Jun (China Daily)
Author of Story of a God Sun Shixiang succeeds in creating many unforgettable characters, apart from the protagonist, in succinct language peppered with local dialect.
The bond between Sun Fugui and his father Sun Pingyu pulls at the reader's heartstrings the most.
For example, while in middle school, Sun Fugui has to trek over mountains once a week to get food, but the path is infested with packs of wild dogs. To protect his son, Sun Pingyu accompanies Sun Fugui on the trip even after a long day of backbreaking toil.
Both father and son often hold back their tears to show how much they care for each other.
Hundreds of other characters come alive as the author describes marriages, funerals, house constructions and toiling in the fields - some of the most important flavors of rural life.
In a village where most people are relatives through generations of intermarriage, they develop uncanny wisdom in sizing up relations.
For example, when the first young man of the village enters college, the whole village claims to be related to him.
The villagers start to immerse themselves in exciting gossip that the young man will eventually marry the daughter of the country's chairman, or the provincial governor, or at least the county head. They start calculating how closely they are related to the family and how they can benefit from his rise in status.
The young man's parents, on the other hand, sensing their son's potential, seek to end the betrothal they established with a relative when their son was a toddler.
The process is not simple as the young girl's family strives to protect their "face" (mianzi) in this inevitable rupture.
The dispute erupts in a display of sharp wit and eloquence, rendered even more creative in dialect.
For example, the girl's mother described the young man as "an ugly toad who wants to eat the swan's fart - he gets nothing even if his neck is stretched thin and his eyes strained green".
Such ingenuous and lively prose from the grassroots of the vast country adds a unique flavor to Story of a God.
(China Daily 05/02/2012 page19)