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Lenin's Kisses

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  79 ratings  ·  20 reviews
A mystifying climatic incongruity begins the award-winning novel Lenin’s Kisses—an absurdist, tragicomic masterpiece set in modern day China. Nestled deep within the Balou mountains, spared from the government’s watchful eye, the harmonious people of Liven had enough food and leisure to be fully content. But when their crops and livelihood are obliterated by a seven-day sn ...more
Hardcover, 592 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Grove Press (first published 2003)
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43rd out of 77 books — 107 voters
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Community Reviews

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Yan Lianke is the author of Dream of Ding Village, which was longlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize, and shortlisted for the International Foreign Fiction Prize. (See my review). He lives in China, but is able to skirt censorship to write witty fables exposing corruption and greed – so far, without interference. However, in Lenin’s Kisses, he has adopted a cunning strategy to allude to the constraints under which he works.

As soon as you start reading the novel, you subliminally notice
This is one of the single worst books I have ever read. I can mostly put this down to the meaning being lost in the translation, given that its author Yan Lianke is one of China's most celebrated writers.
That being said, this simply doesn't work as a book of English language fiction. There are several stories happening at once and no answers and very few resolutions offered at its ending. Characters are self-centred and obtuse and settings are average at best.
The English translation comes acro
LENIN’S KISSES. (2004; Eng. Ed. 2013). Yan Lianke. ***.
This is a clever novel from a well-known Chinese writer who has been the recipient of numerous awards for his previous works. It is an extended satire on the Chinese quest for money and capital investment that the country went through during the 1990s. The story is set in a small village named Liven. As we are introduced to the town, it is in the middle of a summer snow storm. Aside from its unusual nature, the storm manages to ruin the crop
I read the Chinese version, which seems quite different from the English translation. I was so impressed by another book (The Four Books, which hasn't been translated into English yet) that I decided to attend the Int'l Man Booker's Reading event in Southbank Centre in London last week. So the only translation of this book I heard was from the reading at the event. I have to say the English translation made the text seem a lot more beautiful. The original language is quite different, very crude ...more
Full Stop
Jun 11, 2014 Full Stop added it
Shelves: fall-2012

Review by Adam Beaudoin

Lenin’s Kisses, the latest work from the acclaimed Chinese novelist Yan Lianke, now published in English by Grove/Atlantic, is a complex, if hyperbolic, portrayal of contemporary Chinese society. Its characters: peasants and low-level governmental officials live lives rearranged by the forces of an encroaching economy. Ultimately, the book’s goal is to address these forces with a combination of the fantastic and the absurd.

It is set
Jorge Guajardo
This is an excellent piece of literature and one of the most illustrative works on China. Just as García Márquez helps the reader understand Latin America, anyone wanting to understand China should read this book by Yan Lianke.
É a primeira vez que leio um livro de um autor chinês. A sensação é de uma estranheza enriquecedora. Poder olhar o mundo por olhos tão diferentes é muito valioso. O livro trata das transições da China comunista (pré e pós revolução), assim como da atual e peculiar abertura ao capitalismo. Há muita ironia e algo que só posso entender como brutalidade na história. As arbitrariedades de um regime comunista agridem bastante, ainda mais por serem justificadas pela causa. Ao mesmo tempo, o capitalismo ...more
Incredible book telling of the lives and fate of the villagers of Liven in the Balou Mountains.

The fictional story of the village and villagers flips between past and present. It illustrates the depressing nature of short term politics and yearnings for power; as well as the impact of money on people and the prevalence of discrimination over time.

The translation is direct and funny and takes the sting out of some of the less savoury sections describing violence and rape.
Pep Bonet
I have not fully enjoyed this book. I had read a book by the same author -Dream of Ding Village- and I had found it very interesting. A book with a Chinese rhythm, with a story which is clear, where sins of modern China were exposed. But Lenin's kisses is quite different. Very slow rhythm, footnotes which are short stories in themselves, a narrative line on Lenin which seems to get lost at a certain point and a feeling that this book comes from another world, an unknown world.

I must admit that i
Michael O'Donnell
A hard read and not very fulfilling and yet......

A view of China and its dissidents. Delves into the motivations. It does not work as English literature but it works as a piece of literature. In good reads do we weight popularity or art?
A forgotten village of disabled people in China is brought into mainstream society by a narcissistic party leader, using them in his scheme to build a shrine to Lenin (and himself). At the same time a village elder fights to return the village to its isolated past. Filled with both humor and sorrow, I understand this story to be an allegory for the injustices inherent to all societies. The author has a unique style of repetition and attention to details that was a welcome change to me. (I enjoye ...more
wow, a full grown magical world of podunk china, where everybody is crippled in some way, but this allows them to "live under the radar" of chairman mao's bright ideas (for awhile anyway). lots of character threads and their plot lines, so author uses some interesting techniques to keep everybody straight and going forward. so for comparison sake, a communist chinese genuis writer who somehow is the twisted amalgamation of david foster wallace, bolano, and garcia marquez.
i guess perhaps not a re
Vincent Lam
'Lenin's Kisses' shines with both the lyrical flourishes of magical realism and the
keenly sharpened knives of great satire. The reader joins the inhabitants of the village
of Liven as they confront the great upheavals of 20th Century Chinese history armed with
both whimsy and their obsessive determination to prevail. This tale is at once
breathtaking and seriously funny. Anyone who wishes to understand the psychic world-view
of the modern People's Republic of China must read this fine novel.
Tragic, funny, then more tragic. Clever and poetic and educational. But I wouldn't say I so much enjoyed it as felt it was important to read.
Robert Hyman
Lenins kyss på norsk er en episk roman som dekker Kinas historie siden frigjøringen i 1949; men også med referanser langt lengere tilbake i tida. Det er fortalt med en humor som gjør at du vil flire høyt; mens i andre steder er du nødt til å gråte. Jeg kan ikke anbefale denne bøken nok, les den!
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Gave it a try, but couldn't be bothered to read more than 5 chapters. The writing, characters and storytelling were bland and generally uninspired. Even if some of the problem was due to translation, the source material is still lacking.
Jeff Christensen
Social satire of the highest order. Communism, capitalism, and corrupt local officials are all far game in this wildly inventive novel about a commune of disabled peasants.
Martin Z
A masterpiece from Yan Lianke, with all what it takes. However, I noticed the English version that I had (Australian) was way, way bellow the forceful original.
Makes me want to spend the rest of my days livening somewhere deep in the Balou mountains.
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Yan Lianke (Chinese: 阎连科), born 1958, is a Chinese writer.
More about Yan Lianke...
Dream of Ding Village Serve the People!: A Novel The Four Books: A Novel Folkets tjener Les Jours, Les Mois, Les Années (French Edition)

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