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Rickshaw Boy: A Novel

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  831 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
“Lao She’s great novel.”
The New York Times

A beautiful new translation of the classic Chinese novel from Lao She, one of the most acclaimed and popular Chinese writers of the twentieth century, Rickshaw Boy chronicles the trials and misadventures of a poor Beijing rickshaw driver. Originally published in 1937, Rickshaw Boy—and the power and artistry of Lao She—can now be
ebook, 320 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1937)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,644)
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David Acevedo
Jan 11, 2013 David Acevedo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic of Chinese literature that protratis the simplest of quests: a rickshaw-pulling boy whose sole dream in life is as simple as owning hsi own cart. One could possibly attempt to minimize this classic as a portrait of Chinese economy at the beginning of last century. Or a gripping testimony of poverty. In China...

China: so far and yet so close. And that is precisely my point: what is the difference between a boy who works and wants to own his own way of living, versus a boy who sells his
Dec 18, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Grapes of Wrath set in Beijing, but without the stratospheric commentary from Steinbeck's godlike narrator. Rickshaw is, as the forward points out, the social realist work the Socialists of the 1930s wanted to write but never did. It's a stark and muscular read as well as a great introduction to Chinese culture and literature of the Republic between the two world wars. (If I were to teach economics, I'd have my class read this and Mildred Pierce as clearheaded rebuttals to the dismal s ...more
Aug 10, 2014 Petra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Throughout this reading, The Jungle kept cropping up in my mind. This is the Chinese equivalent but it's so much more, as well. I was not fond of The Jungle but Rickshaw Boy tells the story from a Communist & Chinese point of view that shows the sorrow and futility of individualism during those times.
The concept of living for the society, the whole is ever present in this book. Xiangzi is an individualist. He wants to work honestly and hard and for himself. He wants nothing more than to buy
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I first encountered the world of rickshaw pullers when I read The City of Joy. "Camel" Xiangzi, like the main character in that book, is one of China's poorest: an illiterate orphan, he goes to Beiping seeking work, but finds that heavy labour as a coolie is not for him. Having no other saleable skills, he becomes a rickshaw puller. His entire ambition in life is to own a rickshaw--if not two.

At first he is single-minded, depriving himself of treats and rest in his drive to achieve that goal. H
James Nicolay
Aug 29, 2012 James Nicolay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having begun his literary career in his five-year stay in England and even modeling his portrayal of Beiping from Charles Dickens’ novels, Lao She achieves a literary feat in “Camel Xiangzi” where the Chinese novel features an authentic Chinese character which seems to be relatable even with Western readers as the prose has limited third person point of view and even Aritotelian unities, and where the main character, Xiangzi, is an embodiment of a very Western ideology, individualism. However, t ...more
Sep 20, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Hsiang Tzu in Rickshaw depicted the hard way of life in Peking during the 1930’s. The story opened my eyes to how harsh life was for the average person in China during these times. Rickshaw demonstrated several themes of naturalistic literature, and I think Lao She did an excellent job of exploring these themes. Hsiang Tzu surrenders himself to fate and believes he has no control over his own life. The harder life gets for Hsiang Tzu the more he gives himself to fate. This is an exa ...more
Deborah Pickstone
Xiangzi wants to swim upstream and be a self-sustaining individualist in a culture based on the collective. Or a Capitalist in a Socialist environment? It is, of course, hopeless unless you are a salmon. The parable that this book is actually sides with the collective. We read it in translation with the mindset that the individual is supreme but of course it was written from the other perspective and is a critique of the philosophy of individualism. Thus, Xiangzi is in the wrong and should be st ...more
May 28, 2016 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In the introduction to this edition, the translator claims that Lao She was influenced by Dickens. For me, that provides a way into this often inscrutable narrative. It is very Dickensian in its bleakness, its concerns for the trials of the underclass, and, surprisingly, its humor. The book's dust jacket describes Rickshaw Boy as "darkly comic". I'm not so sure about that, but it is sometimes funny. Sure, its humor tends to be uncomfortably misogynist, but it's still humor. The book is also desc ...more
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What a cynical, hateful book. As soon as any positive trait or event is dangled out in the story you can place sure money the author will soon get busy trampling it down to ruin. This happens so often and consistently that it's hard not to suspect the author of taking a kind of bitter, gleeful pleasure in grinding everything good down into misery and failure. Nor is this the somber bleakness of a Joyce Carol Oates novel, which at least have a measure of dignity and consistency to their gloom.

Lao She is one of the most celebrated modern Chinese authors, and with Rickshaw Boy, he confirmed his status as one of China's best novelists and storytellers.

Telling the story of Xiangzi, a man of simple needs but with great ambition, who despite all his best efforts is constantly thwarted by the cruel vicissitudes of life. At every turn, life and its cruel disinterest tears down every shred of happiness and success Xiangzi has. Ultimately, after suffering so long, Xiangzi accepts his fate on
Ala'a  Muhammad
هذة ليست تجربتي الأولى مع الأدب الصيني ولذلك كان يجب أن أكون مستعدة لما سوف أواجه!
ولكن في حالة " الأرض الطيبة" كان عزائي بأن الأب لم يقم ببيع ابنته الصغيرة تحت اي ظرف. لندع هذا جانباً الآن وننتقل إلى رواية " لاو شو" " فتى عربة الركشة". تدور الأحداث حول "الفتى السعيد" الذي يرحل عن قريته بالتوجه إلى بكين رغبة بإقتناء عربة ركشة خاصة به وجمع أموال كثيرة تمكنه من العودة لقريته وإنتقاء فتاة صالحة لتصبح زوجة ومعاونة له بأمور الحياة. ولكن تجري الرياح بما لاتشتهي السفن، وهذا هو ابن القرية الساذج يحاول ال
"The life of a poor man…was like the pit of a date, pointed on both ends and round in the middle. You're lucky to get through childhood without dying of hunger, and can hardly avoid starving to death when you're old. Only during your middle years, when you're strong and unafraid of either hunger or hard work, can you live like a human being."

This is the essence of Lao She's Chinese classic novel Rickshaw Boy. Xiangzi is an impoverished rickshaw puller in his twenties who is ambitious enough to
I wish I could read Chinese so I could read what the author actually wrote. This translation seemed so dull - at first it was like reading a newspaper article or a primer (see Jane run). But then, there were whole pages spent describing a sunset or a rainstorm. It's hard to tell whether this uneven writing was the translator trying to pad the story or if it was originally written this way by the author. There are a lot of modern expressions used which seemed out of place. If it was written seven ...more
Gisela Hafezparast
Mar 16, 2016 Gisela Hafezparast rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is the story of an underdog in China. A young man who comes to town from the country to try and make a life from himself with the only thing he has good, a strong body. No education, no family, no connection. The book describes what was before the Chinese revolution a typical tale of a rickshaw man and what must have happened (and possibly happens) to them in the millions. Of course, people like that where and are not only in China and it is once again, a good depiction why desperate people ...more
Jul 29, 2014 Azhar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bleak glimpse into the miserable existence of the poorest in pre-revolution China. The continuous tides of hope, effort and disappointment simultaneously offers the reader an insight into the harsh realities of representing the society's lowest rungs, as well as exhibiting the author's revulsion towards the existing social structure.

Going through the translation, however, is a tedious affair at times. It can be imagined that much of the linguistic richness is lost in the process.
Feb 19, 2015 Cathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was a great window into a very different and interesting culture. I felt empathy for Xiangzi in his unlucky turn of events. The book started to drag toward the end, but I very much enjoyed reading it... I found myself putting it down and picking it back up again.
Kathy Chung
Mar 02, 2015 Kathy Chung rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find that the main character is very naive and innocent. at times I felt like whacking his head.

what I like about this book is it pretty much describe the era real well.

what I didn't like was that it concentrate too much on the main character. felt a bit bired at times
Apr 14, 2010 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beware: extremely depressing.. do not read if you are feeling depressed already. But this book is AMAZING and one cannot come away from it without a clear picture of oppression.
Shirley Thomas
I wish my Mandarin were good enough to read the original. Nothing wrong with the translation as far as I'm concerned, but Lao She's descriptions were skillful and eloquent, and I flatter myself that I know enough of the language to imagine how lovely it would be.

The beginning was a bit slow for me. Partly because we were introduced to our hero, Xiangzi, who was portrayed as simple and single minded in his outlook.
(Story hit its stride around Ch. 8 and before I knew it, I was on 266 of 299.)

Mike Bull
This book is a classic of the first half of twentieth century China, after the last dynasty was over and before Mao ruled the country.

Set largely in Beijing ("Beiping" in this book), the story follows a boy who pulls a rickshaw through his naive life on the streets and through hard times.

What I liked about this novel was its stark description of the reality of life for many people struggling to make a living in this period, when China was in transition between the ancient and the modern, and whe
Dec 29, 2015 Rusty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lao She was apparently one of the most widely read novelists in China in the early twentieth century and even today is widely read. This novel is one of his best and most often read.

The author writes about a young country boy, Xiangzi, who moves to the city and becomes a rickshaw boy. His life is filled with tragedy and sadness, mirroring the society in which he lived. His idealism moves to acceptance of his life to just surviving.

He detests his wife who trapped him into marriage by feigning p
Julianne Dunn
While in Belize, I read Rickshaw Boy by Lao She, recommended by Molly Hamm for my #2014ReadingChallenge. I must preface this by saying that I only gave it 4 stars but I wish I could give it 4.8 stars and the only reason it isn't 5 is because I wanted more. I wanted a happier ending, I wanted a resolution, I wanted so much more for him. The quality of the book is superb. The hero pulls a rickshaw around Beijing and the sum total of his life's dream is to own his own rickshaw and maybe someday hav ...more
Jun 13, 2015 Melaslithos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a little bit of Zola in Lao She. The later is giving us here a dark and accusing tale where despite all his good will, the main character, Xiangzi, will never manage to escape his condition as a rickshaw boy, one of the lowest in the society of that time.

Xingzi is introduced at first as a young, strong man, honest and hard-working, albeit a bit naive. All that he whishes for is to make a correct living thanks to his hard work. Unfortunately, despite all his hard-working, he will never m
Feb 09, 2011 Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lao She expresses the hardships of the Chinese common man: A Rickshaw puller. The story tells of the main character and the hardships he must constantly endure for his quest to permanently own a Rickshaw. Constantly conflicted by perils and poverty, the protagonist is forced to constantly adjust to a new life while remaining at his same goal of purchasing a Rickshaw. Lao She uses beautiful imagery to described the joyfullest to the most devastating scenes and settings throughout the novel. Ricks ...more
Aug 12, 2011 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent novel. A sort of Chinese Dickens. Lao She describes the life of a poor (average) Chinese man in the days of chaos and foreign humiliation, between the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and the victory of Mao Zedong over Chiang Kai Shek and the KMT in 1949. I've not yet encountered a book that more perfectly evokes the hopelessness of life in those days than this one. Reading this will make anyone get on his/her knees and thank the God that he/she may or may not believe in that ...more
Oct 30, 2012 Elie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Lao She's writing even though it's true I didn't really like this story of him. I find it impressive because I wasn't really interested in the story, I wasn't in a hurry to know what would happen of the characters and yet I could put the book away. Lao She's writing gives you the need to read until the last word, his writing can seem dull sometimes but it's this calm I, in a way or another, find soothing - even if the subject isn't an easy one.

I felt strange after my reading of this book,
Apr 16, 2013 Preston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly depressing towards the end but still a good book. She understands well how to craft a story to drive his point home that we are not meant to lead selfish, "individualistic" lives. His protagonist demonstrates the failures of this modus operandi and uses it to point out that we are meant to live for others in a more communalistic sense.

Lao She was one of the prominent leftist writers in twentieth century China, hence his social focus in this novel on communalism and the ability of envi
Sep 15, 2015 Jaclynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lao She's novel is considered a classic of 20th-century Chinese literature, which is why I thought that I would hate it. Imagine my surprise...a wonderfully tragic, relevant, beautifully written book! Given the time period in which it was written, important themes of the book are the economic precariousness of the hero's life, isolation and individualism.
Lao She also explores personality characteristics and their relationship to economic existence, especially tolerance for risk, tolerance for ha
R. Shurmer
Jun 24, 2016 R. Shurmer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia
It read like an extremely long parable on the corrupting effects of money and Western individualism. Lots of descriptions of plodding through the streets and rather one-dimensional characters.
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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
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