Author: Lao She
Translators: Shi Xiaoqing and Gu Bingxin
Publisher: Indiana University Press (1981)
Renowned for his absurdist re-visioning of the world and experimentation with the techniques of humour in his writings, Lao She has written about most major historical events in modern China. In Camel Xiangzi he reveals his prophetic vision of the future of China. The novel depicts the life of Xiangzi, a young rickshaw-puller in Beijing, who fails to improve his life no matter how hard he works. When innocent people's hopes are destroyed, they are awakened to the truth that they are but playthings of fate, which is a Chinese concept for the unnameable in life's absurdities. The novel demonstrates the techniques of bitter humour Lao She employs in his portrayal of characters, who are caught in the endless social turmoil in the 1930s. The novel's socio-historical dimensions have made it a widely used text for the cultural analysis of modern China.