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The Banquet Bug

3.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  227 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
From the acclaimed author of The Lost Daughter of Happiness comes a groundbreaking novel that will introduce readers to the little-known underworlds of contemporary China Geling Yan captivates readers once more in her breakthrough novel. This is the fantastical tale of Dan Dong, an unemployed factory worker whose life takes a series of unexpected twists after he discovers ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 11th 2006 by Hachette Books (first published 2006)
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Difference of cultures can be felt very well in this book. In what is described and the style of writing.
Dan is unemployed like many other factory workers. He has a normal, not complex life and lives with his wife above the factory where he used to work. When he finds out that by pretending to be a journalist he can get free food and get paid, he starts to go to fancy, sponsored banquets. From then on his simple life changes.

It is a nice story, well written but different. The end dissapoints a
Oct 29, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
"The Banquet Bug" is an entertaining read about a Chinese peasant who has become and out of work factory worker in Beijing. He discovers the world of being a banquet bug- posing as a journalist to attend the city's many fancy banquets for free, and receive "something for his troubles" also known as money. Apparently this is really a regular practice in China, that journalists are invited to banquets, fed and paid to keep the well oiled machinery of corrupt Beijing running smoothly.
Dan Dong and
Kavita Ramesh
Nov 07, 2015 Kavita Ramesh rated it really liked it
I loved it, but then I am fairly easy to please when it comes to books based on Chinese or Japanese culture.
Graham Crawford
Apr 16, 2014 Graham Crawford rated it really liked it
This book is a knockout! The plot is almost surreal - it reminded me a little of Camus or Beckett. We are never quite sure if something is not real, or simply absurd. Underpinning this is a deeply political and compassionate voice that documents the hard lives of the "country bumpkins" in Beijing the excesses of the new hyper rich, and the endemic corruption at the heart of modern China. This would make a fantastic indie movie - but I doubt the Chinese government would let ever let this story be ...more
Apr 14, 2016 Steve rated it liked it
Gelin Yan’s 2006 novel, “The Banquet Bug,” is a quirky fable of an everyman (Dan Dong) who stumbles into the extravagant milieu of banquets, and thus the seedy and corrupt world of the rich and powerful in modern China.

The title refers to those who try to pass themselves off as journalists in order to attend lavish banquets offered by entrepreneurs who hope to bribe positive media coverage by providing grotesquely indulgent events including exotic foods and monetary “gifts.” Dan, an impoverishe
Mar 08, 2016 Melissa rated it liked it
This book was alright. I did want to know if Dan was going to get away with eating the banquets for free, if he was going to find a place to live, and if he would become a legitimate journalist. I liked Happy and Dan's wife Little Plum. She is a simple woman who enjoys staring out at used car lots and enjoys the simpler things in life. It was frustrating that Dan married her and took her to the city only to provide her with a dumpy place to live and then to cheat on her. The everyday struggles w ...more
May 06, 2011 Owen rated it did not like it
I read this a couple summers ago. It was the worst piece of shit I have ever read. DO NOT READ IT. The ending was horrible.
The back cover blurb of this book (also published as The Banquet Bug gives the impression that this is a quirky nailbiter of a thriller, which it definitely is not. Quirky, yes. A great concept: a poor, unemployed worker accidentally discovers that by posing as a journalist he can eat free at lavish banquets several days a week. Though trying to keep his head down, he gradually becomes entangled with ruthlessly ambitious real journalists, prominent artists, property tycoons and relatives of high ...more
The cover of Geling Yan's latest novel, The Uninvited, shows the top half of a naked woman lying with her back to us, on which are laid two prawns and a pair of chopsticks. Even more provocative is a Hyperion East edition being distributed in the United States under the title The Banquet Bug, which has the prawns snuggling on a woman's belly, the bottoms of her breasts framing the top edge of the cover.

With the Western success of such sexually-adventurous Chinese novels like Wei Hui's Shanghai B
Jan 16, 2014 Virginprune rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not a masterpiece but it has its understated, Chinese rhythm to it, which takes you through a journey of cameo Beijing scenes. Like, say, Dostoyevsky, you might feel frustrated with the protagonist, you might wonder why he did a certain action (or failed to act at a certain point) but that makes it all the truer, and although the book certainly is structured, it feels a lot more like a real story than many more cliched tales.
It's a tale of the Chinese underclass, of the generation that uppe
Nov 19, 2013 Emily rated it liked it
An intriguing window into contemporary Chinese culture. I think the narrative was limited at least somewhat by the translation, because some of the dialogue and descriptions were a bit clumsy and stilted.

Still, the story sheds light on what it is like to try to make it in modern-day China. And, by "make it," I mean have food to eat and (not much more than) a roof over your head.

I particularly liked learning about the media machinations and the cultural contrasts between rural and urban China -
Marija S.

The book would have earned 4 stars had I based my grading solely on political message and on successful outlining of contemporary urban China and its flaws, but the flimsy dialogs, abundance of completely redundant paragraphs, the irritating main character, pointlessness of some plot lines just don’t do it for me. The cardboard protagonists all appear to be either selfish or spaced-out, or both, and have failed to evoke even a trace of sympathy in me, regardless of their destinies.

Even though i
Jul 27, 2011 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in modern China Yan shows the darker side of this country famous for it's communist history. Dan Dong and his wife Little Plum are living in a slum community on a rooftop of the old factory where Dan used to work. When Dan is mistaken for a journalist at a media banquet and realises that he can not only eat gourmet meals for free, but also get paid for it, he becomes a 'Banquet Bug'. Unfortunately for Dan his disguise is too believable and he is soon writing articles for real telling the sto ...more
Hock Tjoa
Jan 27, 2012 Hock Tjoa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written by a Chinese journalist who left after the Tiananmen protest and crackdown, this is a fantastical novel, magical realism without the magic, highly imaginative. To say that it describes corruption and exploitation is like saying Moby Dick is about whaling. A good looking temporary (reserve) laborer finds a boondoggle attending banquets pretending to be a journalist. (This book is also published with the title "The Banquet Bug.") He is married to the most worthy of women but finds sex and ...more
Haw Kuang
Oct 22, 2014 Haw Kuang rated it really liked it
Quite an interesting book about an impersonated reporter in China and to get a unique perspective of many social issues in the country. Easy to read but maybe with one too many subplots.
Apr 24, 2014 Huy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Câu chuyện về mặt trái của truyền thông và mặt trái của xã hội, cũng không khác Việt Nam là mấy.
Feb 12, 2014 Baljit rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A catchy start but quickly digresses....
Jul 14, 2008 Jennifer rated it liked it
An interest read in the midst of traveling to Beijing. The book gives a good sense of the new China, a functional but stubbornly corrupt modernity. And couched in a story a man trying to profit from a bit of his own dishonesty. In a way it is hard to blame anyone when everyone is desperate to make it and all do what they can under an oppressive regime. But people do such cruel things to each other under those kinds of circumstances. This is China. Good book though, by the way.
The Uninvited is a satirical look at the contradictions in modern China, where an economic boom has created an immensely privileged upper class, though hundreds of millions of people still live in poverty. It's a light novel, with shaky characterisation and a limp ending, but Yan's observation of the hypocrisies and absurdities of contemporary Beijing make for an entertaining read—there's just enough darkness there to leaven the farce.
Jul 18, 2007 marissa rated it it was amazing
This book was almost bewildering in its furtive lavishness; the sense of intrigue and dread underlying the vast and overwhelming banquets makes the reader feel like she's cramming her mouth as fast as she can. Yan creates this pace effortlessly and the rich, strange foods she details with fine-tipped brush linger on the palate the same way this book does -- phantom, evocative, vaguely unsettling and enough to make you crave more.
Mar 01, 2009 Rougecygne rated it it was amazing
A fasinating look at life in China as lived by a young couple struggling to survive. The main character stumbles onto the fact that press can attend promotional baquets and be paid to eat and listen. He forms a life eating good food under false pretenses and supporting his wife with "money for your troubles". Life takes a turn when he starts to actually write....
Great food discriptions as well as story line.
Sep 15, 2013 Choopie rated it liked it
(Spoiler Alert!)
I find it incredulous that the protagonist could be jailed for 7 years for being a freeloader or that any govt would waste so much police resources on something as petty as that! The plot line re banquet bug dining in itself is pretty silly. Surely a more believable plot could have been employed to highlight whatever political / economic situation the writer wanted to satirized.
Helen Yee
Dec 30, 2015 Helen Yee rated it it was ok
Really struggled with this. There's a staccato-like tone to the conversations - of which there are many - that probably reflects the curt nature of Asian dialogue but doesn't make it easy to read or engage with. This is her first book written in English. I'd be curious to read her earlier works and see if they were translated in the same way.
Mar 01, 2008 Mary rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Dan Dong is a young man who leaves a small village to live and work in Beijing with his wife.Dan accidentally finds he can make money being a "banquet bug", posing as a journalist to get fabulous free gourmet food and and envelope with "money for your troubles",meant to buy a favorable article. His adventures are hilarious.
Kelly Allen
Aug 17, 2008 Kelly Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I read the book, I thought it would be funny. The idea is some guy will disguise as food critics and go to the banquet for free food is pretty amusing to me. But it turn out the be quite gloomy, not in a bad way, just totally not what I expected. I might give it a five stars if the ending is not like what is in the book.
Apr 02, 2013 Hafiz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very likable hero..
Like the unique story, about the power of media and journalism, in both the support and prevention of corruption.
I liked the descriptions of exotic foods and of beijing and its people. To see it from street level through the eyes of the struggling.
Feb 25, 2010 Naomi rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, asia-books
If you are curious about what life in China is really like, this novel may give you a clue. I enjoyed the style of writing, though not all of the content. Still, the story kept me going. Worth reading if you have any interest in China.
Emma Harrison
It got off to a good start and certainly had me hooked. However, I did get rather frustrated with it towards the end. Apologies with the short review - that's the trouble with not reviewing straight after finishing the book!
Apr 19, 2011 Ryan rated it liked it
a fun read that carries you all the way to the end. though a little unbelievable at times. a great job of capturing some of the paradoxes of modern china
Apr 07, 2013 Anne rated it liked it
Interesting story about life and survival in modern Beijing. Surrealism, fakes, corruption and striving to get ahead. Nothing is as it seems.
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Geling Yan was born in Shanghai, People's Republic of China. She performed as a dancer at age 12. She served in the People's Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution, in Tibet and later as a journalist in the Sino-Vietnamese War, achieving a rank equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel. Her first novel was published in 1985. She is the author of such novels as The Banquet Bug (published as The Unin ...more
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