From “China’s most feted and most banned author” (Financial Times), an unforgettable tale of a village that descends into a sleepwalking spell as the sun threatens to never rise again.
Yan Lianke has secured his place as contemporary China’s most essential and daring novelist, “with his superlative gifts for storytelling and penetrating eye for truth” (New York Times Book Review). His newest novel, “The Day the Sun Died” —winner of the Dream of the Red Chamber Award, one of the most prestigious honors for Chinese-language novels—is a haunting story of a town caught in a waking nightmare.
In a little village nestled in the Balou mountains, fourteen-year-old Li Niannian and his parents run a funeral parlor. One evening, he notices a strange occurrence. Instead of preparing for bed, more and more neighbors appear in the streets and fields, carrying on with their daily business as if the sun hadn’t already set. Li Niannian watches, mystified. As hundreds of residents are found dreamwalking, they act out the desires they’ve suppressed during waking hours. Before long, the community devolves into chaos, and it’s up to Li Niannian and his parents to save the town before sunrise.
Set over the course of one increasingly bizarre night, The Day the Sun Died is a propulsive, darkly sinister tale from a world-class writer.
Praise for The Day the Sun Died
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
Named a Best Book of the Year at Publishers Weekly
Named a Best Fiction in Translation Selection by Kirkus Reviews
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
“China’s most controversial novelist . . . [A] preternatural gift for metaphor spills out of him unbidden.”—Jiayang Fan, New Yorker
“Yan is one of those rare geniuses who finds in the peculiar absurdities of his own culture the absurdities that infect all cultures . . . [The Day the Sun Died is] the creepiest book I’ve read in years: a social comedy that bleeds like a zombie apocalypse . . . Yan’s understated wit runs through these pages like a snake through fallen leaves . . . Invokes that fluid dream state in which everything represents something else, something deeper . . . A wake-up call about the path we’re on.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post
“Gripping . . . Yan’s fable, joining a long lineage of so-called ‘records of anomalies’ in Chinese literature, forces readers to reflect on the side of the world that is ‘too absurd, too cruel and too unpleasant.’ . . . Yan’s subject is China, but he has condensed the human forces driving today’s global upheavals into a bracing, universal vision.”—Julian Gewirtz, New York Times Book Review
“Revelatory. We are inside Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese dream,’ a nightmare of corruption and wasted potential. Disgust and hope fight it out, as the reader sits ringside.”—New York
“Floats between surrealism, sci-fi, horror, and absurdism, while never letting go of its satirical eye. Yet the language and structure of the novel reads more like Samuel Beckett or James Joyce than it does The Handmaid’s Tale . . . Bears the largesse and cadence of myth, but it is also the story of a family, told by a simple boy of fourteen. Yan’s physical descriptions can be rich and specific, grounded in realism, but also far-fetched and steeped in surprising metaphor . . . No matter where we live, this is our story, too, or could be, if things don’t change.”—Ploughshares
“Yan trains his fantastical, satiric eye on China’s policy of forced cremation in this chilling novel about the ‘great somnambulism’ that seizes a rural town . . . A riveting, powerful reading experience.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Yan’s novel belongs in the company of Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo and even James Joyce’s Ulysses.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Dark and sinister . . . In his unflinching satire, Lianke shows an incredible mastery of words, both brilliantly humorous and offbeat, making this novel a gripping read.”—Booklist
“This exuberant but sinister fable confirms its author as one of China’s most audacious and enigmatic novelists . . . His writing—resourcefully translated by Carlos Rojas—feels both ancient and modern, folkloric and avant-garde . . . [Lianke] seeds his reader’s imagination, and his outlandish fantasia germinates many varieties of interpretation.”—Economist
“Explores with a strange elegance and dark, masterful experiment these twin themes of night and death, dreams and reality . . . A brave and unforgettable novel, full of tragic poise and political resonance, masterfully shifting between genres and ways of storytelling, exploring the ways in which history and memory are resurrected, how dark, private desires seep or flood out.”—Irish Times
“The Day the Sun Died takes on Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese dream’—a promise to restore China to a position of global importance . . . Yan’s disgust for his country’s moral degradation is unmistakable: a predatory ruling party exploiting its people even in death.”—Guardian
“In this novel, dreams suggest that the present is still haunted by nightmares . . . Remarkable.”—Scotsman
“Powerful . . . Poignant and unsettling.”—Mail on Sunday
“Gloriously defiant . . . Sophisticated in the layered, gothic excesses of its allegorical zombie narrative . . . A powerful, captivating work of art.”—South China Morning Post
About Yan Lianke
Yan Lianke is the author of numerous story collections and novels, including The Years, Months, Days; The Explosion Chronicles, which was longlisted for the Man Booker International and PEN Translation Prize; The Four Books; Lenin’s Kisses; Serve the People!, and Dream of Ding Village. Among many accolades, he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize, he was twice a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize, and he has been shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Man Asian Literary Prize, and the Prix Femina Étranger. He has received two of China’s most prestigious literary honors, the Lu Xun Prize and the Lao She Award.