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Reviews

  • The novel, a parody, sets itself up as a kind of Maoist Anna Karenina . . . At its core, Hard Like Water seeks to make a mockery of claims to political purity. As Hongmei and Aijun arouse each other with propaganda slogans and revolutionary citations, the novel pokes fun at how easily an ideology can be contorted to satisfy individual desires

    Jennifer Wilson, New York Times
  • A vivid, even lurid, portrait of the vandalistic savagery and hypocrisy of the post-1966 Cultural Revolution . . . Well-served by Carlos Rojas's agile and richly textured translation

    Boyd Tonkin, Financial Times
  • A fascinating work . . . Yan's challenge, to his samizdat readers in China and those beyond, is to look in the murky glass of ambition and self-deception and find the face that resembles their own

    John Phipps, The Times
  • Yan probes the darkness and absurdity of Chinese society and history with a sexy satirical tale of the Cultural Revolution as wrought in a small village . . . distinctive and punchy. Yan's exuberant and unflinching tragicomedy is undeniably appealing

    Publishers Weekly
  • A gritty, memorable story . . . Yan's study of power and class struggle becomes, in the end, a near-classic tragedy

    Kirkus Review
  • Yan's signature biting wit creates another indelible work of bittersweet humor and socio-political insight

    Booklist
  • Predicted to become a new future classic . . . this is a powerful, multi-faceted book that questions everything from marriage to sexual desire, power and the dangers of hubris

    Clara Strunck, Buro

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