The Four Books: A Novel

Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
1
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From the Franz Kafka Prize–winning author of Lenin’s Kiss, a “stupendous and unforgettable” novel of Mao’s China (The Times, London).
 
In the ninety-ninth district of a re-education compound, freethinking artists and academics are detained to strengthen their loyalty to Communist ideologies. Here, the Musician and her lover, the Scholar, along with the Author and the Theologian, are subjected to grinding physical labor. They are also encouraged to inform on each other’s dissident behavior—for the prize of a chance at freedom.
 
Their preadolescent supervisor, the Child, delights in reward systems and excessive punishments. But when agricultural and industrial production quotas are raised to an unattainable level, the ninety-ninth district dissolves into lawlessness. As inclement weather and famine set in, the people are abandoned by the regime and left alone to survive.
 
Set inside a labor camp during Mao’s Great Leap Forward, Booklist calls The Four Books a “rich and complex novel,” from “China’s most heralded and censored modern writer” (The South China Morning Post).
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About the author

Yan Lianke is the author of numerous short story collections and novels, including Serve the People!, Lenin's Kisses, and Dream of Ding Village, which was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and adapted into a film (Til Death Do Us Part). He is the winner of two of China's most prestigious literary awards, the Lu Xun prize and the Lao She award, and he was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
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Published on
Mar 3, 2015
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Pages
354
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ISBN
9780802191878
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Satire
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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A special fiftieth anniversary edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece, “a desperate, painfully honest attempt to confront the monstrous crimes of the twentieth century” (Time), featuring a new introduction by Kevin Powers, author of the National Book Award finalist The Yellow Birds
 
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
 
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming “unstuck in time.”

An instant bestseller, Slaughterhouse-Five made Kurt Vonnegut a cult hero in American literature, a reputation that only strengthened over time, despite his being banned and censored by some libraries and schools for content and language. But it was precisely those elements of Vonnegut’s writing—the political edginess, the genre-bending inventiveness, the frank violence, the transgressive wit—that have inspired generations of readers not just to look differently at the world around them but to find the confidence to say something about it. Authors as wide-ranging as Norman Mailer, John Irving, Michael Crichton, Tim O’Brien, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Strout, David Sedaris, Jennifer Egan, and J. K. Rowling have all found inspiration in Vonnegut’s words. Jonathan Safran Foer has described Vonnegut as “the kind of writer who made people—young people especially—want to write.” George Saunders has declared Vonnegut to be “the great, urgent, passionate American writer of our century, who offers us . . . a model of the kind of compassionate thinking that might yet save us from ourselves.”

Fifty years after its initial publication at the height of the Vietnam War, Vonnegut's portrayal of political disillusionment, PTSD, and postwar anxiety feels as relevant, darkly humorous, and profoundly affecting as ever, an enduring beacon through our own era’s uncertainties.

“Poignant and hilarious, threaded with compassion and, behind everything, the cataract of a thundering moral statement.”—The Boston Globe
From the Nobel Prize winner and best-selling author of Snow and My Name Is Red: a soaring, panoramic new novel—his first since The Museum of Innocence—telling the unforgettable tale of an Istanbul street vendor and the love of his life.

Since his boyhood in a poor village in Central Anatolia, Mevlut Karataş has fantasized about what his life would become. Not getting as far in school as he’d hoped, at the age of twelve he comes to Istanbul—“the center of the world”—and is immediately enthralled by both the old city that is disappearing and the new one that is fast being built. He follows his father’s trade, selling boza (a traditional mildly alcoholic Turkish drink) on the street, and hoping to become rich, like other villagers who have settled the desolate hills outside the booming metropolis. But luck never seems to be on Mevlut’s side. As he watches his relations settle down and make their fortunes, he spends three years writing love letters to a girl he saw just once at a wedding, only to elope by mistake with her sister. And though he grows to cherish his wife and the family they have, he stumbles toward middle age in a series of jobs leading nowhere. His sense of missing something leads him sometimes to the politics of his friends and intermittently to the teachings of a charismatic religious guide. But every evening, without fail, Mevlut still wanders the streets of Istanbul, selling boza and wondering at the “strangeness” in his mind, the sensation that makes him feel different from everyone else, until fortune conspires once more to let him understand at last what it is he has always yearned for.

Told from different perspectives by a host of beguiling characters, A Strangeness in My Mind is a modern epic of coming of age in a great city, a brilliant tableau of life among the newcomers who have changed the face of Istanbul over the past fifty years. Here is a mesmerizing story of human longing, sure to take its place among Pamuk’s finest achievements.
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