After the Finale
by Zhou Daxin
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 28 Sep 2019 | Archive Date 02 Nov 2019
Alain Charles Asia Publishing, Sinoist Books
Zhou Daxin's fictional biography follows the life of a man who grew up in poverty in China's Mao era and then rose through the ranks of government during the country's period of reform and opening up. It's a tale of love, leadership, betrayal, corruption, lust, greed and the nature of power amid the rise of the 21st century's new superpower.
What's left after a lifetime of service in the Chinese government?
At the age of 66, Ouyang Wantong, the former governor of Qinghe province, was too young to die. He touched the lives of so many people during his time on Earth. Some of them loved him intimately, while many more held him in the highest esteem. But there were also those who hated him and wished him dead. And now the battle to find his rightful place in the history books has begun…
After the Finale is a fictional biography of an extraordinary man who grew up in poverty in China's Mao era and then rose through the ranks of government during the country's period of reform and opening up. It's a tale of love, leadership, betrayal, corruption, lust, greed and the nature of power amid the rise of the 21st century's new superpower.
Born in Dengzhou, north-central China in 1952, Zhou Daxin is a novelist, short-story writer and essayist whose realist fiction mostly focuses on ordinary people in his home province of Henan. He made his literary debut in 1979 and has published nine novels, thirty-three novellas and more than seventy short stories, as well as essays and plays. In 2016, People's Literature Publishing House published Selected Works by Zhou Daxin, a twenty-volume collection of novels, novellas, short stories, essays and a screenplay. Zhou has received numerous awards, including the National Outstanding Short Story Award, the Feng Mu Literature Prize, the People's Literature Award, the Mao Dun Literature Prize, and the Lao She Prose Essay Award. His works have been translated into a dozen languages including English, French, German, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, and Greek. He currently resides in Beijing.
Average rating from 6 members
Ultimately so it is said that if you follow the writings of Marx you will create a world where each individual will be able to maximise their full potential irrespective of the circumstances of their birth. After reading Zhou Daxin's wonderfully compelling and subversive novel After the Finale it is clear that even in a country like China that is one of the few remaining countries that still at least pays lip service to Marx there is a long way to go to achieve this Utopian ideal. Connections and having the right people put in a word for you are prerequisites for advancement and this system is strangely similar to our own where the top jobs in the judiciary, civil service, academia and government are filled with those who have attended the right public school and university. Here as in China, judges sons may well end up as judges. Another theme perhaps indeed the central theme that dominates the book is the scale and reach of corruption that is so all pervasive whether subtle or blatant that is has become an accepted part of everyday life. The novel is a fictionalised account of interviews being undertaken by a biographer who is gathering material on the life of Ouyang Wantong, the former governor of Qinghe province who has recently died at the age of 66. Those being interviewed include former wives, other family members, employees and those in the government both sympathetic or not. Layer by layer a picture of Ouyang Wantong emerges and by using the interview device the reader is forced to sift through the evidence and evaluate the often contradictory sentiments and narratives given. But throughout there is a feeling of mystery and malevolence emanating from dark forces at the heart of government and society that will do anything to protect their vested position. Many of the interviewees have more to tell and are clearly holding back something that they are afraid to go on the record with. Apart from a dissection of the body politic we get glimpses of current Chinese attitudes to such subjects as the continual need to forever increase GDP. fears for the environment and the unease about the amount of US debt that they have acquired. Surprisingly (although given their history perhaps not) it is not the USA but rather Japan that is still seen as the existential threat. Unlike some other authors Zhou Daxin continues to live and work in China which gives his writing a an extra resonance. I know that there is book censorship in China but getting such a subversive book published might indicate that it is perhaps not on the level seen in the former Soviet Union days. This ultimately is a wonderful study of power and how one man despite his short comings must battle against powerful forces to remain true to his own convictions. A must read for those who would like to obtain a little bit more understanding of an increasingly powerful force in the world.