The Dark Road

The Dark Road

A Novel


Translator: Flora Drew

Format
Hardcover
Price
$26.95
 
Additional Formats
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781594205026
  • 384  Pages
  • Penguin Press
  • Adult

Overview

From one of world literature’s most courageous voices, a novel about the human cost of China’s one-child policy through the lens of one rural family on the run from its reach

Far away from the Chinese economic miracle, from the bright lights of Beijing and Shanghai, is a vast rural hinterland, where life goes on much as it has for generations, with one extraordinary difference: “normal” parents are permitted by the state to have only a single child. The Dark Road is the story of one such “normal” family—Meili, a young peasant woman; her husband, Kongzi, a village schoolteacher; and their daughter, Nannan.

Kongzi is, according to family myth, a direct lineal descendant of Confucius, and he is haunted by the imperative to carry on the family name by having a son. And so Meili becomes pregnant again without state permission, and when local family planning officials launch a new wave of crackdowns, the family makes the radical decision to leave its village and set out on a small, rickety houseboat down the Yangtze River. Theirs is a dark road, and tragedy awaits them, and horror, but also the fierce beauty born of courageous resistance to injustice and inhumanity.

The Dark Road is a haunting and indelible portrait of the tragedies befalling women and families at the hands of China’s one-child policy and of the human spirit’s capacity to endure even the most brutal cruelty. While Ma Jian wrote The Dark Road, he traveled through the rural backwaters of southwestern China to see how the state enforced the one-child policy far from the outside world’s prying eyes. He met local women who had been seized from their homes and forced to undergo abortions or sterilization in the policy’s name; and on the Yangtze River, he lived among fugitive couples who had gone on the run so they could have more children, that most fundamental of human rights.

Like all of Ma Jian’s novels, The Dark Road is also a celebration of the life force, of the often comically stubborn resilience of man’s most basic instincts.
 

Praise

“In ‘The Dark Road,’ as in “Beijing Coma,” Mr. Ma is adept at jolting our senses, transporting us, with a few words about a pain, a taste or an odor, to those parts of China, and millions of people, who exist on the far fringes of the economic miracle. “—The New York Times

“[Ma Jian's] characterization is superb. A devastating critique of China’s oppressive communist regime.”—Mail on Sunday

“Unforgettable.”—Sunday Telegraph

“Ma’s work is a vital corrective and he writes here with insistent, focused anger.”—Metro

“All of Ma’s skill and playfulness are on display as the novel builds to a climax.”—The Guardian

“A compellingly dark novel.”—Glasgow Sunday Herald

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