A breakneck adventure story following the erotic love affair of party cadres Aijun and Hongmei during China's Cultural Revolution
In revolutionary struggle, if you don't defeat your enemy, your enemy will defeat you...
On his return to his hometown - and his wife - to aid the Cultural Revolution, soldier Aijun sees a young woman wandering barefoot along the railway tracks in the warm late-afternoon sun. Her name is Hongmei. From this moment on, an 'unspeakably beautiful flower' blooms in Aijun's heart. As Aijun and Hongmei hurl themselves into their town's revolutionary struggle, they become inseparable. They spend their days and nights stamping out feudalism, writing pamphlets and attending rallies: they are the engines of history. But soon, their sexual and revolutionary fervour begin to merge, and a crazed new love explodes between them.
The party bosses are hugely impressed by the ardour of the pair's work. Emboldened, the couple build a 'tunnel of love' - to further the revolution, of course, but also to connect their homes and create a 'nuptial chamber' for their secret rendezvous. But when Hongmei's husband finds them there one evening, and the young couple are arrested for framing a comrade in their upward political ascent, their dreams of a life together begin to fall apart.
Hard Like Water is a novel of rare emotional force from one of China's greatest contemporary writers. This is a universal human drama about the nature of political power and the danger of hubris, as well as the freewheeling momentum of love and sexual desire.