Chinese Modern Classics: The Scenery of the Lake and the Mountain

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The fateful story begins with Nuannuan, the youthful villager called home from the city to care for her mother. Upon her return, Nuannuan forges ahead with plans to invigorate the rural village with new enterprises and business. As the sublime image of a woman in the eyes of the village men, village chief Zhan Shideng plans to marry Nuannuan to his younger brother, however, her refusal and subsequent elopement with the desperately poor young man Kuang Kaitian brings on the full wrath of the rampant chief. Worldly, resilient and spirited, Nuannuan must contend with those that transpire around her as she marches on to the beat of her own drum.A tragic tale not without warmth, the author provides unique perspectives on rural life in China, at once scratching into the surface layers of the monumental changes brought by modernity, and then taking us deep into the core structure of a village governed by stiff tradition and the ardours of change.

About Author

Zhou Daxin was born in 1952 in Dengzhou, Henan. Since first publishing in 1979 he has won the National Excellent Short Story Prize, the Feng Mu Prize and the Mao Dun Literature Prize. Many of his works have been adapted into plays, television series, movies and radio plays. Some works have been translated into English, French, German, Japanese, Czech and Korean. He currently lives and writes in Beijing. His works include the novels Out of the Basin, Twentieth Act, Legends of War, and Warning. The novella Sesame Oil Mill On The Banks was filmed as Les Femmes du lac aux âmes parfumées and won the 43rd Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear Award.

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Nuannuan’s biggest dre am then was to earn 10,000 yuan. The digits in her account were slowly approaching that dream. In a couple of nights, Nuannuan even dreamt of how she would spend the money. What she never dreamt of was the call that came, informing her Mom’s dire situation. When the call arrived she was busy cleaning a recently furbished apartment in Chaoyang District, Beijing. The smell of paint solvent in this new apartment had given her a headache, but Nuannuan did not stop: she scraped the dirt from the floor, cleaned the glass of doors and window panes, washed the stains off the rags and mops, and carried
the garbage away . . . The cleaning company assigned the job to her and two other girls. The faster she could finish her part, the earlier she would get her share of 90 yuan. Just as she was wiping her sweat off — the mop in her hand and her T - shirt all soaked wet — one of the other girls’ phone rang. The girl passed it to Nuannuan: “It’s for you.”
Nuannuan was surprised: “From whom?”
She felt nervous when she saw the number indicating her hometown — she asked Dad not to call (after all, it was not her phone) unless urgent. Dad’s voice was shaky:
“Nuannuan, I am calling from the post office on Juxiang Street. You must hurry back, your mother is very, very sick . . . ”
Her legs went shaky, too. Leaning against the closest windowsill, she responded: “Dad, send her to the town hospital, I am coming home . . . ”
When Nuannuan arrived at the east bank of the Red Lake on a bus, after a train ride to the town of Nanfu City, it was noon of the next day. She made a run for the pier as she got off — if she could catch the boat to the west bank, she would make it home at sunset. Yet the boat had already left her sight. Unwilling to give up, she ran to the ticket house and asked: “Is there another boat today?”
“No. You have to come back tomorrow.” The man answered as he closed the ticket window.
Upset, Nuannuan threw her bag to the ground, and sat down. As she sat, her hand touched the pouch next to her waist. It was filled with 8,000 yuan in cash, and that was all the money she had earned in the past two years. “Mom, don’t be afraid, your daughter has the money for your treatment . . . ”
Nuannuan was worried, fretting when she heard a call from nearby: “Black Bean! Remember to bring more magnolia buds next time!” Black Bean? She turned her head and saw Uncle Black Bean from her village, a frequent visitor to the east bank to sell his herbs. Nuannuan picked up her bag, and found herself staggering towards him: “Uncle Black Bean, did you row yourself here?” The man, in his middle age, tanned, skinny and short, turned to look at her: “Ho-ho! Nuannuan! You are home?! That’s lucky.Come here, take a ride on my boat home.”

Chinese Modern Classics: The Scenery of the Lake and the Mountain