Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Dictionary of Maqiao” as Want to Read:
A Dictionary of Maqiao
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Dictionary of Maqiao

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  145 ratings  ·  14 reviews
From the daring imagination of one of China’s greatest living novelists comes a work of startling power and originality–the story of a young man “displaced” to a small village in rural China during the 1960s. Told in the format of a dictionary, with a series of vignettes disguised as entries, A Dictionary of Maqiao is a novel of bold invention–and a fascinating, comic, dee ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 27th 2005 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published 2003)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Dictionary of Maqiao, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Dictionary of Maqiao

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 512)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This was such a unique book; part novel, part short story collection, part memoir, part treatise on language and culture. The author was one of the "Educated Youth" relocated to the countryside, specifically the village of Maqiao, in the 1950's as part of Mao's Cultural Revolution. The author presents his somewhat fictionalized experiences in Maqiao as vignettes, each revolving around a particular word, name, or phrase from the Maqiao dialect. Through these we are introduced to a cast of eccentr ...more
Having a sense of humour doesn't mean being able to tell jokes. Humour is the ability to play with the expected. Which is never more apparent than when authority tries to tell people what to think.

In 1970, the young intellectual student Han Shaogong was sent to the tiny village of Maqiao, where not much has changed since the emperor's days. But this was the cultural revolution and everything was to be made new: city-dwelling weaklings would become good workers, and in the process help turn the f
Rowland Bismark
During the Cultural Revolution, Han Shaogong was one of seven Educated Youth sent to the hamlet of Maqiao in northern Hunan, which consisted of "forty-odd households, about ten head of cattle, and pigs, dogs, chickens, and ducks, with two long, narrow paddy fields hugging its perimeters". His observations of people and customs and language during the six years he spent there form the basis for his novel A Dictionary of Maqiao.

This takes the ostensible form of a dictionary or encyclopedia, with o
Wendy G
This is one of the many books I chose based on the title; I was not disapponted. "A Dictionary of Maqiao" is a novel about a fictional village in rural China and the ways in which the people used language to resist, transgress, and mock the current political climate. The backdrop is the Down to the Countryside Movement, which was a component of the Cultural Revolution in China. Young, urban, college-educated people were sent en masse to rural villages to learn the real and valuable work of the p ...more
Frank Kasell
An interesting book, this. When I discovered it, the immediate comparison that came to mind was with the Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavić. Ultimately, though, outside of the main structural conceit (eschewing a conventional linear plot in favor of short, interconnecting "dictionary" entries), the connections are limited. In Han's fictionalized dictionary (it's unclear to me where the line is between the fiction and the reality, to be honest...not that I think it's important to know) of ...more
Peter Milligan
Love the spirit of the book. Revolution!
Sarah Fisher
Jun 05, 2007 Sarah Fisher rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: language lovers
4 stars since it tended to be dry at times. It's written in dictionary style using language and its cultural peculiarities to also tell the story of a remote village in China, which speaks their own dialect. Very interesting how the language really becomes part of the people. You'll probably get more out of it if you already have some background in Chinese, or better yet, can read it in the original language. It'll make the book easier to understand at first.
Jun 04, 2007 Amelia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
I really enjoyed this. It was hard to follow at first since I got the characters mixed up. Even though this is organized as a dictionary, it's really the description of a cast of characters. This book is about those who populate a Chinese village during the Cultural Revolution. I enjoyed its insight into the way that Chinese peasants experienced that time period.
Shanti Hofshi
Interesting approach to telling a story - a series of word definitions that bring the characters and their relationships to life little by little. Also a fascinating insight into life under the Cultural Revolution in China. Would be nice to know whether all the tidbits of information can be taken at face value, though.
Read it, interesting enough, but just couldn't get into.
There were pages of this that I liked, pages that explored how language is rooted in place. There were small stories within the larger novel that were fascinating. But on the whole, it felt like work to finish it, like an unfinished promise.
Valette Keller
So slow and boring. The few bits of story that happened in some of the definitions were kind of interesting, but the history of the people and the lands an the words was uninteresting and just couldn't finish.
Nancy Lewis
A familiarity with China and Chinese culture helps when reading this book.
Natasha Telepneva
An incredible book, strongly recommend!
John Armstrong
John Armstrong marked it as to-read
Aug 01, 2015
Linda Coontz
Linda Coontz marked it as to-read
Jul 30, 2015
Robobobo marked it as to-read
Jul 29, 2015
Olivia Lewis
Olivia Lewis marked it as to-read
Jul 25, 2015
Diannepan marked it as to-read
Jul 23, 2015
Sarah marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2015
Jasmine marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2015
Kenny marked it as to-read
Jul 20, 2015
Joaquin marked it as to-read
Jul 19, 2015
Paige marked it as to-read
Jul 19, 2015
Chris Holder
Chris Holder marked it as to-read
Jul 18, 2015
Anniek marked it as to-read
Jul 16, 2015
Hedda Charlie
Hedda Charlie marked it as to-read
Jul 16, 2015
Nancy marked it as to-read
Jul 16, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 17 18 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai
  • Beijing Coma
  • Fortress Besieged
  • Village of Stone
  • Brothers
  • The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China: The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun
  • Family
  • The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P'ing Mei: Vol. One: The Gathering
  • Dream of Ding Village
  • The Boat to Redemption
  • The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai
  • Love in a Fallen City
  • China Witness: Voices from a Silent Generation
  • Little Hut Of Leaping Fishes
  • Rickshaw Boy
  • Sandalwood Death
  • Emperor of China: Self-Portrait of K'ang-Hsi
  • One Man's Bible
Pa Pa Pa Pa Pa Pa, Vrouw vrouw vrouw Femme, Femme, Femme Intimations Moon Orchid

Share This Book