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Hard Like Water - cover

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Hard Like Water

Yan Lianke

Translator Carlos Rojas

Publisher: Grove Press

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Summary

After his memoir Three Brothers, in Hard Like Water Yan Lianke returns to fiction with a novel that is at once a powerful interrogation of politics as well as a comic and moving love story of two revolutionaries that recalls Yan Lianke’s best-known and best-selling novel Serve the People!, for fans of The Sympathizer, The Orphan Master’s Son, and the works of Jung Chang and Mo Yan.



There has been a huge surge of interest in Yan Lianke’s writing after Jiayang Fan’s profile appeared in the New Yorker in October 2018. His dissenting voice is all the more important as Xi Jinping’s regime becomes ever more restrictive. Yan Lianke figures each year as a favored candidate for the Nobel Prize, and he deserves this highest of literary honors.



Yan was the first Chinese writer to win the Franz Kafka Prize, and has been twice short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize (most recently for The Four Books), as well as the Prix Femina Étranger, the Financial Times Oppenheimer Emerging Voices Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and the Man Asian Literary Award.



On February 21, 2020, weeks before the first stay-at-home orders in the United States, Yan gave a lecture at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, entitled “What Happens After Coronavirus?”, which Literary Hub later published on March 11. The lecture urged his creative writing students to remember the ravages of Covid-19, stressing the importance of their own lived memories of trauma in the face of all-too-early calls for victory over the virus. 



Yan’s previous novel, The Day the Sun Died, received extraordinary praise and media attention. He was interviewed on NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” the first time he has done national radio—NPR requested him despite the need for an interpreter and the challenges of setting up the interview in Beijing. Ron Charles wrote in the Washington Post that “Yan is one of those rare geniuses who finds in the peculiar absurdities of his own culture the absurdities that infect all cultures,” and the New York Times Book Review raved, “Yan’s subject is China, but he has condensed the human forces driving today’s global upheavals into a bracing, universal vision.” We expect similar major review attention for this first novel in two years from this world-class writer.



There has been film interest in The Day the Sun Died, including from Plan B Entertainment, Brad Pitt’s production company.



Three Brothers was an Amazon Best Book of the Month (Memoir), and received glowing review attention in the New Yorker, the Financial Times, Words without Borders, and more.

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