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Rickshaw Boy

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,049 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
A beautiful new translation of beloved Chinese author Lao She's masterpiece of social realism, about the misadventures of a poor Beijing rickshaw driver

First published in China in 1937, Rickshaw Boy is the story of Xiangzi, an honest and serious country boy who works as a rickshaw puller in Beijing. A man of simple needs whose greatest ambition is to one day own his own ri
Paperback, 300 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published 1937)
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David Acevedo
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
James Nicolay
Aug 29, 2012 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
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
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
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
"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
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
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Rickshaw Boy 6 16 Jul 10, 2014 08:50PM  
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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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