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Cat Country : A Satirical Novel of China in the 1930's
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Cat Country : A Satirical Novel of China in the 1930's

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3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  239 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
When a traveller from China crash-lands on Mars, he finds himself in a country inhabited entirely by Cat People. Befriended by a local cat-man, he becomes acquainted in all aspects of cat-life: he learns to speak Felinese, masters cat-poetry, and appreciates the narcotic effects of the reverie leaf – their food staple. But curiosity turns to despair when he ventures ...more
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published June 28th 1970 by Ohio State Univ Pr (Txt) (first published 1932)
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Ivana
Aug 14, 2012 Ivana rated it really liked it
The author did not consider himself a good satirist. I would disagree, this is satire at its best. It is a satire on China, but I would say that it can be applied to most societies. Set on Mars, it questions the customs of a cat society living there, while in fact examining human nature. More often focusing on dark aspects of human psychology then not, the novel describes a dystopian society. It is a fascinating read, if somewhat depressive.
Hamid
Sep 21, 2013 Hamid rated it really liked it
This is brilliant satire. This is terrible science fiction. If you're familiar with the contemporaneous historical period in which the author is writing, this is a thoroughly engaging, amusing and troubling work. If you're not familiar with the events, you'll find this a confusing, unfunny, poorly-written hash which you might be able to roughly identify with planet of the apes.

If, therefore, you deicide to read this, you should take some time to look into Lao She, the Chinese Republican and War
...more
Felix Zilich
Не подозревал, что лучшее и наиболее злое произведение про Интернет и про его влияние на мозги простых смертных было написано еще 80 лет назад в революционном Китае. Из фантастической повести китайского классика Лао Ше мы узнаём о первом азиатском экипаже их двух человек, отправленном с Земли на Марс. Во время неудачного падения на Красную планету один из космонавтов погибает, а второй попадает в поселение кошкообразных аборигенов. Цивилизация кошачьих, некогда могучая и величественная, ...more
Melaslithos
As has been mentionned by another reviewer here, "This is brilliant satire. This is terrible science fiction."

The plot is almost nonexistant, but it is an excuse for a fantastic satire of the Chinese society of that period. Between the reverie-leaf that makes us think of opium, the "everybody sharekyism" that ressembles marxism/communism/all other -ism, the blind immitation of foreign values, the continual revolts, corruption, Lao She discribes a very bleak society, a society loosing its values,
...more
Victoria Moroz
Oct 16, 2016 Victoria Moroz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Смотрела на днях доклад с ютик переводчиков Стивена Кинга, они там упомянули эту книгу.
Антиутопия про людей-кошек?! Живущих на Марсе? Китайская?!
Аааа!!!
Срочно читать!!!
Не пожалела.
Benino
Jul 07, 2016 Benino rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lao She's Sci-fi account of a society's downfall is a thinly veiled dystopian vision of the fate of the Chinese Republic. Told through the eyes of a stranded Mr. Earth, a nameless narrator who seems to have no purpose other than to enable this historical account, the cautionary tale is a collection of encounters with different members of a society that is destroying itself through vice, anarchy, and short-sighted greed.

Lao She's polemical attack on self-serving individuals and their disservice
...more
Morgan
A glimpse into the political situation in China in the 1930s through the eyes of a pessimist: Lao She despises both the bureaucratic state and the hapless revolutionaries because he sees both groups as self-serving and idiotic. References to the Chinese state, Karl Marx, and Communism are thinly veiled ("Everybody Shareskyism"). The text is interesting and enjoyable, if you enjoy fuel for misanthropy. The main thrust: everyone is irredeemably stupid and deserves to die, for what is the point of ...more
James
Best known for his vernacular drama and novels, Lao She brought the local dialect of Beijing to a wider, national audience during the Chinese Republican Era yet Cat Country is a marked change from his standard plays. His first and only work of science-fiction, the novel tells the story of a Chinese man stranded on Mars whereupon he encounters a race of Cat People. In investigating their society and culture, he learns more about them and soon realises that their whole civilisation is on the brink ...more
Mel
I must admit that I did not care as much for this as I was hoping. It was very heavy handed satire. Like most early 20th century Chinese literature I've read by male authors it lacks any real characterisation of women. The book involves a young man going to Mars and discovering the "cat country" which then proceeds to mock all the things that he dislikes about Chinese culture. In the English translation the translator is key to point out the problems of traditional Chinese culture that is being ...more
Brian Grover
McNally Jackson rarely steers me wrong w/ their staff picks, but this book was a real struggle. The plot is ostensibly about a Chinese stargoer who crash lands his ship on Mars and falls in with a race of cat people whose once great society is on the verge of collapse.

That sounds like a pretty entertaining premise to me, but what Lao She was really writing here was a satire of modern (in 1932) Chinese society. Once this guy falls in with the cat people, he settles into a pattern where he keeps h
...more
Sean Jan
Dec 13, 2015 Sean Jan rated it liked it
Cat country by Lao She is a dystopian science fiction novel based around the fall of a civilization. When a astronaut crash lands on mars, he finds himself in a civilization made entirely out of cat people. He learns about their language, habits, and culture however he soon discovers that he is observing the fall of the civilization. This book is plot driven and character development is also fairly common however the setting and conflict aren’t all that apparent. This book actually doesn’t have ...more
Eric Hinkle
Apr 28, 2014 Eric Hinkle rated it liked it
Seeing as how this was published the same year as Brave New World, about a dystopian civilization of Cat People on Mars, written by one of the most revered Chinese writers of last century, I naturally thought this book would be wonderful. Turns out to be way too bleak and pessimistic, even for my tastes. Lao She was known for his humor and wit, which this book largely lacks, and he was just too disgusted with his country at this point to write the kind of book he could have. I'll seek out ...more
Brett
Jun 14, 2016 Brett added it
Sure, the Mars/Cat-People backdrop is just a flimsy veil for Lao She to shit all over China (this is not a terribly subtle or artful book), but a lot of his concerns and critiques are so tonally perfect (oh my god, the descriptions of urban foot traffic) that all the sci-fi abstraction helps preserve the novel from becoming dated. More than a few times did I share a passage with a student or colleague only to have them turn to me and go, "That is exactly what it's like living here." Considering ...more
Sergiy
Apr 25, 2015 Sergiy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still applicable to China today, as well as many other countries. Like any good satire you can pick and choose quotes and passages that ring true today, even though the book was written in the 1930s.
Sara Kallstrom
Dec 09, 2015 Sara Kallstrom rated it liked it
Penguin Modern Classics has recently published an English version of this book. If you are familiar with Chinese history around the fall of the Qing Dynasty, you might be interested in this satire by one of China's great modern authors. If you aren't familiar with this time period, don't bother.
Cameron
Jul 27, 2011 Cameron rated it liked it
Any book translated from the Peking dialect, a political satire written by a man who admitted to being a poor satirist, and masquerading as China's first purported sci-fi novel, is likely to be a bit odd.

Aside from all this, I quite enjoyed it.
Jessica T.
May 09, 2016 Jessica T. rated it did not like it
I can't do it this.. this book is awful. It just goes on and on in rant form... there's isn't any real story just a veiled commentary of China's politics in the 30s. I just can't.
Hannah
Aug 22, 2014 Hannah rated it liked it
Social commentary on China that is very thinly disguised, but it kept my attention well enough. A decent story with a rather abrupt, hopeless ending. NOT a beach read ;)
Damian
Jul 01, 2016 Damian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will probably come back and revisit and/or change the score once I've read up on the period of China that this book is written in. I don't really think I have the knowledge to judge it...
!Tæmbuŝu
Aug 26, 2013 !Tæmbuŝu marked it as to-read
Online text of 猫城记

Reviewed by NYRB

Patrick Gamble
Hard to be a Cat - Excellent world building and some nice satire but something gets lost in the translation.
Krayfish1
Not the best of satires. It rips into China saying "China is like this" without digging deeper or exploring consequences or taking it to absurd enough levels. Interesting though.
Kacper
Jun 23, 2015 Kacper rated it did not like it
This book stinks! A country full of cats sounds wonderful but the author makes cats bad!!! This book is a travesty against cats!
Pavel Moiseenko
Не мой жанр. Стилизация под архаичную литературу. Читается, примерно, как Гаргантюа и Пантагрюэль.

Прекрасная цитата:
Ради чести оказаться первым китайцем на Марсе стоит и умереть!
Joseph Reid
Mar 31, 2015 Joseph Reid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly harsh satire of the issues Chinese society faced at the time. Many aspects of its criticism still stand for current Chinese society, but this is of course debatable.
Jacob Mclaws
Jul 16, 2015 Jacob Mclaws rated it really liked it
Shelves: sino-shtuff
This is an awesome satire of China that helped me get a feel for the real social, economic, and political issues were causing so much duress in the 1930s.
Silke
Dec 24, 2015 Silke rated it really liked it
Apocalyptic novel describing the narrator being stranded on Mars - speak Cultural Revolution time China.
Olesya Gorlesk
Olesya Gorlesk rated it really liked it
Nov 01, 2015
Steve!
Steve! rated it it was amazing
Sep 23, 2013
Paolo Grill
Paolo Grill rated it really liked it
May 06, 2013
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How Did You Get Your Paws on Cat Country? 7 8 Jan 06, 2015 12:12AM  
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93509
Lao She (Chinese: 老舍; pinyin: Lǎo Shě; Wade–Giles: Lao She; February 3, 1899 – August 24, 1966) was the pen name of Shu Qingchun (simplified Chinese: 舒庆春; traditional Chinese: 舒慶春; pinyin: Shū Qìngchūn; Manchu surname: Sumuru), a noted Chinese novelist and dramatist. He was one of the most significant figures of 20th-century Chinese literature, and best known for his novel Rickshaw Boy and the pla ...more
More about Lao She...

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“the novel is a vicious attack on the guiding ideology of the party – Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.” 0 likes
“And so the result of several years of Everybody Shareskyism, other than slaughtering people, is for everybody to stand around and stare blankly at each other.” 0 likes
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