By Shen Congwen, Jeffrey C. Kinkley
Why this book?
This 1934 work tells the moving story of a young country girl called Cuicui and her ferryman grandfather. As the girl comes of age, she catches the eye of two brothers. It’s a simple plot but beautifully told, with sympathetic depictions of the common folk and rich nostalgic evocations of rural life. The “border” in the title refers to the West Hunan setting near the provincial border with Sichuan. The area is also a cultural border between the Han and various minorities. Shen Congwen grew up there and was himself of mixed heritage. Chosen to receive the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature, he died before the announcement, and the prize – following the rule against awarding posthumously – went to another writer.
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