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Camel Xiangzi

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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,112 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
This novel marks the peak of Lao She's career as a professional writer and registers a new approach to the representation of China in its absurdist situation. It shows Lao She at his best. A mature writer, that excels in his mastery of narrative techniques, reveals his prophetic vision of the future of China. It can be read as an "epic" of modern China.
Paperback, 587 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Chinese University Press (first published 1937)
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David Acevedo
Jan 11, 2013 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
...more
James Nicolay
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Zak
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
So tragic and moving. A searing social critique of conditions during China's chaotic war and revolutionary years. I don't care if people accuse it of being deliberately manipulative or not, this was and is a memorable read for me. It is not hard to imagine that millions faced even worse than this during those tumultuous times.

Final rating: 4.5*

Note: This is the latest edition translated by Howard Goldblatt, who did such an excellent job with Mo Yan's 'Sandalwood Death'. There were at least two p
...more
Jim
Mar 25, 2008 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
Petra
Mar 09, 2014 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
...more
Valerie
Mar 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.25
Eh.
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
...more
Cecília Visconti
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O Garoto do Riquixá é um romance do autor chinês Lao She (pseudônimo de Shu Qingchun), publicado originalmente em 1937. No Brasil, a obra foi publicada pela editora Estação Liberdade em 2017.

O livro nos traz a história de Xiangzi, um humilde, honesto e ingênuo puxador de riquixá que sai do campo para tentar a vida na cidade de Beijing durante as décadas de 20 e 30.

Otimista e determinado, Xiangzi possui um único sonho: conseguir economizar alguns yuans (dinheiro chinês) para comprar o seu próprio
...more
Bucket
"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
...more
Emily
Sep 20, 2011 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
Matej Laš
Najdivnejšia ľavicová agitka, akú som kedy čítal. Ak ma malo toto prinútiť postaviť sa po boku Maoa a šíriť svetlejšie zajtrajšky, tak je to dosť smutné. Na vine nešťastia hlavnej postavy nebola spoločnosť, ale jeho absencia kontaktu s mozgom. O sile kultúrnej revolúcii vás to presvedčí asi tak, ako Sulíkove blogy o pravicovom racionalizme.
Ala'a
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
...more
Melaslithos
Mar 12, 2015 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
...more
Devyn
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly enjoyable classic. It was interesting to read of what China must have been like so long ago and how rickshaw boys made a living.
I'm not sure some of the parts I found funny were meant to be, or if my American sense of humor found amusement in it, but some parts of the book was just downright hilarious!
I even liked the ending!
I expected something far more bitter than the happy, so I was pleasantly surprised.
Rosemarie
I really wanted to like this book, but the book is depressing and I couldn't relate to any of the characters. There is not one glimmer of hope in this book for anyone that is poor- you were poor, you work yourself to death, and you die poor. On the other hand, if you were born in the middle class or upper classes....
Stephen Douglas Rowland
I am thinking I will probably edit this review in the future, when I have learned more about Chinese society. On one hand, this novel is brilliant, brutal, and relentless, with a somewhat hypnotic writing style that offers no comparison. It is surely the most depressing novel I've ever read, which says quite a lot if you know me and my penchant for hopelessness (as well as my 5-year foray into Japanese literature). Yet the ultimate, anti-individualist message still confuses me. The author critic ...more
Dree
Xiangzi is a country boy who moves to Beiping (Beijing). He works as a rickshaw puller, and through hard work, saving, clean living, and honesty, he plans to save until he can buy his own rickshaw and eventually own a rickshaw stand. Despite his best efforts, he is thwarted every time he starts to get ahead, through no fault of his own, and eventually gives up his grand dreams, and then his basic dreams as well.

An easy read, but fairly repetitive and obvious once you catch on to the pattern. Als
...more
Sydney ✨
Not going to review this because it was read for class but needless to say, I was not a huge fan. Could be because of the class? Not sure. Just not my cup of tea.
Jason
May 15, 2016 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
James
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
...more
b bb bbbb bbbbbbbb
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.

In
...more
Sonia
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
Jan 04, 2015 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
Azhar
Jul 29, 2014 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.
Kathy Chung
Feb 10, 2015 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
Cathy
Oct 03, 2010 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.
Ruth
Apr 14, 2010 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.
Lemar
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book years ago and the protagonist and many scenes remain. Highly recommended.
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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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