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The Fat Years: A Novel
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The Fat Years: A Novel

3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  883 ratings  ·  163 reviews
Banned in China, this controversial and politically charged novel tells the story of the search for an entire month erased from official Chinese history.

Beijing, sometime in the near future: a month has gone missing from official records. No one has any memory of it, and no one could care less—except for a small circle of friends, who will stop at nothing to get to the bot
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Nan A. Talese (first published October 1st 2009)
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this book should come with a warning label.

it's supposed to be a novel, fer chrissakes. not a synopsis of china's political and economic history. if they'd sold is as the latter, i'd give it five stars. but as a novel, it blows.

i bought the audiobook rather than the print version. the narrator does quite a nice job. i listened to it while teaching myself to knit, fortunately. at least something useful came out of the time.

the story's split into two sections--the "story" part, and the epilogue. i
Anabelle Bernard Fournier
In translation theory, there are two main factions: the "naturalizers" and the "foreignizers" The naturalizers think that literature should be translated in a language that feels natural to the reader, as if it had been written originally in their language. The foreignizers, on the other hand, think that the best way to honour a text is to keep the translation as close to the source language as the target language will allow. In other words, the first group would have the English sound English, ...more
The novel The Fat Years by Chan Koonchung has been banned in China. I know this because it says so right on the cover of the book. Big deal right? What isn’t banned in China? Does a book being banned somewhere entice anyone to read it anymore like in the old Legion of Decency days? What possible titillation or thrill from forbidden knowledge could come from a banned book these days when you can go in the internet and see any type of porn you want and/or cats spouting philosophy while dressed as ...more
Truthfully, I couldn't finish the book. The Fat Years is badly written and characterized, with only its message going for it. Unfortunately, even 60% into the novel the main plot point had yet to appear - only awkward setup. Coupled with overly blunt writing and severly stilted dialogue, The Fat Years is an utterly unpleasant read.

Is there political, near-future relevance to the book? Maybe. But it's impossible to reach the point through the mess and though the message screams loudly, it isn't r
This is an intriguing book, at least the 75%. The first three quarters consist of inter-woven stories of several citizens of Beijing, China in 2013, two years after a world financial crisis that has resulted in China becoming an economic superpower. They've even bought Starbucks and begun serving up lychee dragon lattes. But don't forget: this is a dystopian tale, a science fiction tale. The Chinese people, it seems, have a case of collective amnesia when it comes to their country's recent past. ...more
“Between a good hell and a counterfeit paradise, which one will people choose?” is the underlying question in Chan Koonchung’s The Fat Years.

When I started reading The Fat Years I was expecting a dystopian novel and was surprised that the book is actually a critique of contemporary Chinese culture and political system. Luckily, it was an informative and interesting description of the fallings of the Chinese Communist Party, and Chan does a decent job of blending the story’s narrative with the p
nan talese is usually a stamp of excellence, a sign that the product you are holding is quality, exciting, literature even. this could be an exciting novel of famine, great leaps forward and people's ability to overcome great hardships. but it actually is a poor story written rather badly. see this instead From Wonso Pond: A Korean Novel or this The Orphan Master's Son or this Wolf Totem or this talese imprint The Ginseng Hunter: A Novel
...I suppose I can see why the Chinese government would not be thrilled with the publication of The Fat Years. I think the answer to the riddle of the missing month is so over the top however, that nobody would take it too seriously, including the censors in China. It does offer the western readers a glimpse of life in urban China that we don't often get to see. It shows a level criticism of the government, discussions on various historical events that are usually taboo and a number of frank com ...more
Fantastic and engaging premise, and the translation on this reveals a nice edge to the writing, especially for a writer from Asia. The rambling final section was fascinating though a little drawn out. I enjoyed the shifting in perspectives, and also the meta-commentary on the place of coincidence in fiction writing. Chan tries to cover and address just about every social topic in China that he can, and predictably some items are more insightfully discussed than others. Still, as someone who's sp ...more
the gift
this is not a very well written book, but it is still very good. fascinating, immediate, engaging, this portrayal of a slightly future or alternate history china, perhaps didactic, simple characters, it may be more what the chinese call a novel- not so much western tastes. this 'lost month' is too credible in a world of news cycles renewing itself perpetually, every twenty four or forty eight hours... not a lot of intense commentary when the world flies by so fast, when there is money to make, w ...more
“No country can afford to be without idealists, especially not contemporary China” The Fat Years

i’ve been reading about the Cold War and how little time there was between the triumphant success of the allied forces -ending w.w. 2- and the return of self-interests that established a huge divide between them .... a divide that would dominate world politics for years to come. i’d read about the Marshall Plan before (American aid that helped rebuild a war-torn Europe) but i had no idea how incredibl
Ich muss zugeben, dass es in erster Linie Schuld des Covers ist, dass ich dieses Buch unbedingt lesen wollte. Ich weiß ehrlich gesagt nicht, ob ich das Cover unheimlich oder einfach nur genial finden soll. Jedenfals hat mich das Cover sofort angesprochen und als ich dann auch den Klappentext gelesen habe, war für mich klar: Du musst dieses Buch haben. Allerdings war das Buch um einiges anders, als ich es mir vorgestellt hatte. Was nicht unbedingt schlecht sein muss ...

Die Geschichte wird aus ver
Apr 25, 2013 Alta added it
Shelves: unfinished
The Fat Years by Chan Koonchung (Anchor Books, 2013. Trans. from the Chinese by Michael S. Duke)

Chan Koonchung—who was raised in Hong Kong, has studied in Boston, worked for many years as a successful journalist/editor, and now lives in Beijing—knows what Westerners go for, so he has packaged a novel with all the necessary ingredients: references to the Tiananmen Square massacre, a succinct compilation of the most important events in 20th century Chinese history—this alone is evidence of the aud
Sep 10, 2012 Jodi rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Jodi by: goodreads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Not sure why people rate this so poorly outside of the fact that they aren't happy with all the Chinese political details. I personally loved the challenge of this book to look up the names and events unfamiliar to me. I especially loved getting a crash course in dissident literature in China, and I am still avidly reading through that book list. What makes the politics of this book even better is seeing larger national debates through the gaze of the characters, each of whom is representative o ...more
Nicholas Whyte

This is a fascinating book, by a writer who was born in Shanghai, educated in Hong Kong and now lives in Beijing. The book itself has been published in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but is not officially available on the mainland (though a fascinating foreword by Julia Lovell refers to Beijing's "chic party-hostesses slipp[ing] copies of the book into guests’ take-home bags"). It came out in 2009 and is set in the very near future of 2013, after a further financ
Marthe Bijman
The Fat Years is a profoundly disturbing novel. It has been banned in mainland China and officially has not been published there. However, the author has said digital copies were disseminated “on the Internet within the Chinese firewall” before being deleted. Koonchung does not speculate who specifically deleted his novel, but the title of an article by him, “Chinese Author: My Book Was Banned in My Home Country”, strongly implicates the Chinese authorities.

It is a cross between Science Fiction,
Kristen Faust
Another 3.5 stars. Interesting to read a book that is banned in an entire country, although I suppose since this is China we are talking about it's not a big surprise. According to the book, citizens there have access to 90% of everything, but I'm grateful to come from a country where technically we have 100% access.
The "novel" part is intriguing and very interesting. I really wanted to know what happened to each of the characters. The Epilogue is where you find out what did happen. I didn't lik
This novel is set in the immediate future when the world economy has crashed into deep recession and China has miraculously turned its economy around by forcing internal consumption and everyone is so oddly happy. Everyone? No not everyone. A few people held out being miserable and desperately try to figure out what happened to everyone else. These four people band together to uncover the truth. It turns out the Party had seen the world recession coming and prepared a scenario to come out of it ...more
Author: "Hey editor, I got this great idea for a book. I'll write a dystopic novel set in modern China which is a parable for the current government structure and its ability to mass control the population."

Editor: "OK great, go, do that."

(six months later)

A: "Look boss, here's the thing. I finished the first two-thirds of the book. It's the best I've ever written."
E: "OK ... are you gonna finish it?"
A: "Nah, I don't think so."
E: "Why? We're already committed to printing it next week!"
A: "Just d
What a weird book! Great premise: China is living it's "Age of Ascendancy" in the current time. This era began at the same moment that the global economy hit the skids in 2008, and after a serious crackdown on anarchists and protesters in China. However, no one remembers those hard times, and everyone seems unusually placid and happy, except for a small circle of friends who were inexplicably not affected by the "small small high" that everyone else experiences. They capture a high ranking gover ...more
Hal Carim
Chan Koonchung's banned book "Fat Years" is a coruscating satire of a near-future vision of China in a "Golden Age of Ascendancy" under "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” with the majority of the people opting for immediate prosperity and material gains in return to total obedience to the totalitarian rule of the Communist Party and its exercise of historical amnesia - a "Counterfeit Paradise." This is contrasted with the actions of a small minority of persecuted dissidents in a "Perfect H ...more
Modern China is so complex and so much more than can be read and interpreted in the western media. Not sure if this book can be fully understood without some background on the culture and history. Also somewhat frustrated by reading it in translation as I expect there are more layers in the characters' names than can be expressed in English. And a map would be helpful.

The novel is billed as dystopian but creates such a realistic view of China in 2013, maybe the reality is the dystopia... or uto
Canadian 135
This book is hard to review. I loved it, but can appreciate it's not really a novel, or speculative/science fiction, but a discussion of contemporary urban China. The book is about a "missing month" in China - the month when China catapults into world ascendancy, becomes an economic leader and political powerhouse, and the people become happy. Only a few Chinese remember the missing month - the story of which is told against the backdrop of the changed leadership of the Communist Party, the lack ...more
Blandine Got

Un peu fastidieux parfois, quand on a une connaissance limitée de l'histoire chinoise des... Cinquante dernières années. Mais amene a avoir un regard différent sur notre fonctionnement occidental. Interesting...
A political essay cloaked as a dystopia. Very reminiscent of the Goldstein book of 1984. Very eerie and prescient examination of the power and possible ends of the shadowy CCP.
Michael Leung
Excellent book on China, the Communist Party and its future. The book starts off slow but the epilogue is well worth it alone. How many books can say that?
Elizabeth Sum
A letdown...became really boring.
John Defrog
Speculative fiction from mainland China! Or rather, a mystery set in a speculative fiction backdrop dressed up as a detailed critique of modern China. Or possibly vice versa. Anyway, the basics are this: in the near future, a global economic crisis even bigger than the 2008 meltdown has enabled China to supplant the US as the major economic power in the world, and China has become the happiness place on Earth. But a small group of people are not happy at all because they remember the events of t ...more
Sharon Stoneman
It's a small world, after all? A novel that aims to look at contemporary China is tackling a huge story, and the author repeatedly refers to the challenges that the size of China presents - both in the number of citizens and in its geography. And yet, the cast of characters - less than a dozen - move about the country, travel the world - and continually run into each other. At the local Starbucks, the local bookshop. Even in its hugeness, China is a small world.

The characters in the book are lik
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Goodreads Librari...: Combination request 55 216 Oct 31, 2011 01:51PM  
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The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver Il demone della prosperità - Assaggi d'autore gratuiti: Tra un inferno vero e un paradiso falso, tu cosa sceglieresti? Il caso letterario che ha scosso ... - Assaggi d'autore) (Italian Edition) Il demone della prosperità (Longanesi Narrativa) 我這一代香港人 香港三部曲

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