Panic and Deaf
Two Modern SatireseBook - 2001
Educated Youth. The Lost Generation. They served Mao's Cultural Revolution as Red Guards in the late 1960s, only to be sacrificed to that same revolution a decade later when they were rusticated to desolate communes and the wastelands of northern China. When they were allowed to return to the cities, they found themselves dislocated once again, this time by the social and economic upheavals of the post-Mao era. A former Red Guard and one of China's most accomplished satirists, Liang Xiaosheng follows his compatriots as they make their way through the morass of petty corruption, bureaucratic back-biting, and opportunism that is the new New China. In a tone deceptively light and humorous, Liang expresses the financial and sexual frustration, pathetic mediocrity, and impotent resentment of aging "educated youth" trapped in a public sector rendered increasingly superfluous by the brash econonic dynamism of China's new entrepreneurial class.
Mordant and absurdist touches abound in Panic, a hilarious, often heartrending comedy of manners from China's Roaring Nineties. Liang depicts modern, dysfunctional man as being hopelessly badgered by hypercapitalist performance ratings while Marx and Lenin look on. Deaf, likewise, is high comedy, spinning multiple allegories of truth, faith, and the human condition. Fluently and gracefully translated, these two stories capture the spiritual chaos of today's China, a place as far removed from the exotic Qing Dynasty court as it is from the political and social turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.