290 pages Su Tong My Life as Emperor: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9781401374044

My Life as Emperor: A Novel

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9781401374044: My Life as Emperor: A Novel

From the celebrated author of Raise the Red Lantern comes a spellbinding novel about life in the imperial court of a child emperor.

In this chilling yet enormously entertaining tale by acclaimed Chinese writer Su Tong, a pampered and naïve 14-year-old prince finds himself, suddenly and unexpectedly, named Emperor and placed in the position of lord and ruler over an entire nation. A boy of few talents and limited interests, he soon grows drunk on his own power and learns to wield an iron fist in dealing with subjects inside and outside the palace. Narrated in retrospect by the ex-Emperor, this is a mesmerizing story of cruelty and decadence, of concubines and eunuchs, of lethal imperial rivalries and royal court intrigue.

Su Tong is one of the most celebrated Chinese writers today. The New York Times calls him "an imaginative and skillful storyteller." The publication of this book--his first in almost ten years--was an international literary event. His innovative, deftly constructed novels remain at the forefront of a growing body of work by a coterie of writers who have exposed new facts about China's past and posed vital questions regarding the country's future.

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About the Author:

Su Tong was born in Suzhou, China, in 1963 and graduated from Beijing Normal University with a degree in Chinese literature. He is the author of the novel Rice and the three-novella collection Raise the Red Lantern, the title story of which was made into an Oscar-nominated film by Zhang Yimou. Su Tong now lives in Nanjing, China.

Howard Goldblatt, an award-winning translator of Chinese authors, including Mo Yan and Liu Heng, is a professor at the University of Notre Dame.

From Publishers Weekly:

It takes mere days for a shy, wistful 14-year-old prince to turn into a full-fledged terror as emperor when rule over the fictional Xie Empire is unexpectedly bequeathed to him in this gorgeous bloodbath of a novel, the latest from the author of Rice and the Raise the Red Lantern series of novellas (filmed by Zhang Yimou). Told in the first person, the book chronicles the boy-emperor Duanbai's matter-of-fact demands, appetites and diversions, which involve everything from settling paltry old scores with lethal force to removing the tongues of discarded concubines. Only a young court eunuch named Swallow manages to elicit something resembling true affection from the young emperor over the course of their peculiar and at times heartbreaking eight-year relationship. Tong's lush prose style ("The corpses looked like wooden logs lying in the snow-covered wheat fields, though the rank smell of blood hovered above them") provides the perfect counterpoint, as well as startling detail and texture, to the perilous court life it recounts. Threaded in are the moral lessons of the monk Juekong, heeded by Duanbai only after it is far too late. Tong claims in his preface that this "scary dream on a rainy night" is set "in no particular time"; applied to today's world, it becomes powerful allegory.
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