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Border Town

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  260 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
New in the Harper Perennial Modern Chinese Classics series, Border Townis a classic Chinese novel—banned by Mao’s regime—that captures the ideals of rural China through the moving story of a young woman and her grandfather. Originally published in 1934 by author Shen Congwen, this beautifully written novel tells the story of Cuicui, a young country girl who is coming of ag ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published 1936)
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The Essays by Francis BaconGitanjali by Rabindranath TagoreSelected Poems by Rabindranath TagoreThe Best Short Stories of O. Henry by O. HenryHis Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle
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Sara Steger
Dec 29, 2015 Sara Steger rated it liked it
Shelves: asia, kindle-purchase
"An old imperial highway running east from Sichuan into Hunan province leads, after reaching the West Hunan border, to a little mountain town called Chadong. By a narrow stream on the way to town was a little white pagoda, below which once lived a solitary family: an old man, a girl, and a yellow dog." So begins the tale of Cuicui.

I was particularly interested in reading this account of peasant life in China before the revolution, because I wanted to make a comparison to Pearl Buck's Good Earth
Feb 08, 2016 Amanda rated it really liked it
En annorlunda bok som inte påminner om någonting jag tidigare läst. Tyckte väldigt mycket om det poetiska språket ("ett stjärnskott rispade rymden" etc.) men också själva storyn i sig. Man fick väldigt tydliga bilder i huvudet när man läste och miljön var väldigt vackert beskriven.

I övrigt tycker jag det är sorgligt att biblioteket sålde den här boken för 5 kr, för jag tror många skulle uppskatta den om de faktiskt läste den. Det är nämligen en ganska mysig bok som går fort att läsa och som man
Man Hui chan
Jun 25, 2013 Man Hui chan rated it it was amazing
I felt extremely lucky to understand a bit of Chinese so I could read the original text and not the translation. One word to conclude my feeling about this book: BEAUTIFUL! I think it’s more than just beautiful. It is a love story that’s so pure as if such pureness is no longer existed in our world today. That’s why I found it so beautiful and moving. It’s the beautiful souls and humanity touched me dearly. Of course Shen’s writing is admirable. He has the ability to transform the most ordinary ...more
Jul 29, 2015 Randall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know near enough about Chinese politics, much less of this story's era, to be able to comprehend why it would have been banned.

Terrific little story told terrifically. The author (and translator?) do a great job setting the scene. Really enjoyed this read.
Jul 23, 2015 norcalgal rated it liked it
Even with its impeccable pedigree, I am sorry to say I was not entranced by this novel. Yes, the prose is lyrical, beautiful, and fluid, but I felt the story took too long to get going.

I like coming-of-age stories, and especially of girls because you don't find that as often in literature. And, I did like the female protagonist Cuicui. However, I felt she was a little too passive. The only time I recall her taking a proactive stance in her own life was when she did not give a firm yes or no if s
Shen Congwen is one of pioneers of modern Chinese literature, and with Border Town - one of his most famous books, it is easy to see why. Falling under the "native soil" genre of writings, Shen describes in detail the daily lives of the villagers in a semi-fictional town in the author's home province of Hunan. A descriptively simple book, Shen has managed to paint a picture almost frozen in time, of China before the turmoil of the mid-twentieth century.
Apr 21, 2015 Ieuan rated it liked it
The novel "Border Town" by Shen Congwen has received much critical acclaim for its very real portrayal of what rural China can or has looked like in the way of culture, and customs. I say can look like because surely a 1 billion plus population will not be universal in its ways. I would add my voice to those who consider it a classic of Chinese literature; however not with the connotation many such voices to carry, that suggests that this novel paints a picture of the Chinese universe. Instead I ...more
Cuicui’s tranquil river life is interrupted when two young suitors come courting and she is faced with the choice of remaining with her beloved grandfather or making a favorable match. This stunning novel, set in rural China in the days before the Communist Revolution, was banned by Mao and is now accessible in a new English translation.
Staci Woodburn
Apr 16, 2010 Staci Woodburn rated it it was ok
Stilted, dull prose. Often compared to the Good Earth, but it doesn't come close to measuring up. The story was mildly interesting, but I never developed any feelings for the characters or what they were going through.
Ezrela Cheung
Mar 14, 2013 Ezrela Cheung rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
富有鄉村情懷 洗滌人心
Sep 03, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it
An evocative novel by an author who was chosen for the Nobel prize, but died before it was awarded. The story is very simple. Cuicui (Green Jade) leads a quiet life with her grandfather, a ferryman, transporting passengers across a small stream near a frontier town. Since Cuicui is thirteen, she is almost ready for marriage and draws the attention of two sons of a wealthy merchant. Although published in 1934, the book has the timeless feel of a fairy tale. I was particularly intrigued by the fai ...more
Sadiq sagheer
May 25, 2016 Sadiq sagheer rated it liked it
Giving this 3 stars is generous. The story moves very slowly and the ending unsettling. The plus side is the description and beliefs of the area. I'm surprised why they banned this book in China before, as this book is not talking about the lives of ordinary people & peasants living in that time, as what Pearl S. Buck did in her book (The Good Earth).....For me this is a predictive boring love story with no end....
Poe Wilson
May 11, 2016 Poe Wilson rated it liked it
Real rating: 7/10
A writer's legacy tends to become tainted by the politics of the world. Shen Congwen was banned in China by the communist party at the height of the crack down on culture. Which in turn made his work mythical and considered of a higher standard, however it is average and would have been considered as such a masterwork had it not been banned by the party.
This is a pleasant tail of a young Chinese girl coming of age and if one has not lived in China, it is a nice peek into what li
Sarah Sammis
Aug 19, 2010 Sarah Sammis rated it it was amazing
I can easily fall into ruts in my reading. I tend to gravitate towards California writers. When I feel myself falling into one of these ruts, I walk the shelves of my local library. One of the gems I found this way was Border Town (边城) by Shen Congwen.

Cuicui lives on the edge of a river with her ferryman grandfather. She has learned his job but is also intrigued by thoughts of love and romance. Her two suitors though aren't of her liking, she has grander notions that go beyond the two sides of t
Nov 09, 2015 Jan rated it it was amazing
Loved how this book flowed. The story was sweet and full of characters you could care about. I'm not sure why it would have been banned, and to be honest, I guess I didn't get the ending. It's one of those that leaves you wondering. But the way the story is told is really beautiful and I cared.
Mar 04, 2015 A.L. rated it really liked it
I read this book for research and really enjoyed it, especially because it was so hard to predict. BUT, the ending!!!??!!! Even the person who owned the book before me wrote, "WHAT?" in the margin. :)
Aug 27, 2015 Katie rated it liked it
I liked this a lot at first. The view into Chinese culture in a rural town was interesting. But the end threw me for a loop. Not what I was expecting.
Apr 22, 2014 Wai rated it really liked it
A beautifully written simple tale of love and customs.
Apr 06, 2015 Victoria rated it liked it
It ended too soon!
Sep 13, 2014 Marc rated it it was ok
too simple...boring
Camelia Rose
边城(Border Town) is a novella by Shen Congwen, one of my favourite Chinese authors. I read in the original language. It's a beautiful and poignant story. The writing is beautiful and lyrical.

The un-spoken love, the sibling/friend rivalry and the intervention of fate, as well as the description of lake/river, somehow all remind me of Immensee by Theodor Storm, although the background is totally different and Border Town is much sadder.
Qing Wang
Similar to The Great Gatsby, this is a classic I found difficult to appreciate.
Mar 13, 2010 Andi rated it liked it
This is a story where the story behind it is better than the actual book. It is written by one of China's greatest writers and banned during his lifetime. The actual story is simple and sweet, but there wasn't enough for me to think it was an incredible story. Maybe it lots some of it's strength in the translation?
Carmen Wong
Jun 03, 2012 Carmen Wong rated it it was ok
If I could read it in Chinese, I would. I am not sure if it's got to do with the translation, but I didn't understand the complexity in the plot. Aren't they making a big deal of the (view spoiler)
Jun 18, 2012 Oscar rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Very beautiful and simple story which seems to just flow lazily along before you realise how much momentum it has actually gathered. Somehow the people are secondary to the town itself, which is the real main character of the book, but that doesn't seem to lessen their tragedy.
Nov 22, 2013 Lisa rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
 Barb Bailey
Nov 09, 2009 Barb Bailey rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009, asian
This book was well written. The story is about peasants living in rural China before the revolution. It tells of their simplicity and customs. I would give this book a 3 1/2 rating. Shen has been compared to Pearl Buck...for me he did not quite measure up.
Jan 15, 2013 Louise rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. The story of Cuicui, an orphan girl raised by her grandfather in Southwest China and her transition to adulthood. Although published in 1934, it was banned after the 1949 Communist Revolution.
Mar 07, 2010 Jaime rated it liked it
Came recommended to me because I enjoyed Buck's "The Good Earth." Although I read "Border Town" in one sitting, I didn't find it nearly as interesting or captivating as Buck's novel.
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Shen Congwen (沈从文, December 28, 1902 – May 10, 1988), formerly romanized as Shen Ts'ung-wen, was one of the greatest modern Chinese writers, on par with Lu Xun. Regional culture and identity plays a much bigger role in his writing than that of other major early modern Chinese writers. He was known for combining the vernacular style with classical Chinese writing techniques. Shen is the most import ...more
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