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Border Town

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  221 ratings  ·  34 reviews
First published in 1934, Border Town brings to life the story of Cuicui, a young country girl coming of age during a time of national turmoil. Like any teenager, Cuicui dreams of romance and finding true love. She's spellbound by the local custom of nighttime serenades, and she is deftly pursued by two eligible brothers. But Cuicui is also haunted by the imminent death of ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published 1936)
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Man Hui chan
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
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.
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.
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
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
富有鄉村情懷 洗滌人心
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
Sarah Sammis
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
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. :)
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.
A beautifully written simple tale of love and customs.
It ended too soon!
too simple...boring
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?
Camelia Rose
边城(Border Town) is a beautiful novella. It's about un-spoken love, loss, competition and separation. The interaction between characters and the landscape described in the book make me feel nostalgia.
It somehow reminds me of Immensee by Theodor Storm, although the backgrounds are totally different.
Carmen Wong
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)
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
 Barb Bailey
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.
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.
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.
I really didn't like this book. I give it a 3 on a scale of 10.

"Border Town" was Book No. 25 for 2015! (And I should give myself bonus points for finishing it!)
Jul 21, 2013 Mary added it
I quit reading this book. It just didn't grab me although it was very well written. I think I am just not in the mood for it right now.
Perhaps much gets lost in the translation. One hackneyed phrase after another. Stopped 20 pages in.

A fairly interesting book which takes an unbelievably depressing turn at the end.
A song for a girl, a China I would love.
gorgeous!! Wonder what it's like 70 years later
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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
More about Shen Congwen...
Calma Selected Short Stories of Shen Congwen Recollections of West Hunan Imperfect Paradise: Stories (Fiction from Modern China) The Border Town and Other Stories

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