The English Class won the Community Relations Commission Award in NSW Premier's Literary Awards 2011
About Ouyang Yu
Ouyang Yu came to Australia at the age of 35, and, by 55, has published 55 books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, literary translation and criticism in English and Chinese languages, including his award-winning novel, The Eastern Slope Chronicle (2002), his collection of poetry in English, The Kingsbury Tales (2008), his collection of Chinese poetry, Slow Motion (2009), his book of creative non-fiction, On the Smell of an Oily Rag: Speaking English, Thinking Chinese and Living Australian (2008), his second novel, The English Class (2010), his book of literary criticism, Chinese in Australian Fiction: 1888-1988 (2008), and his translation in Chinese, The Fatal Shore (forthcoming in 2011). His translation of Christina Stead's The Man Who Loved Children was published in China in 1998.
About The English Class
At the end of the Cultural Revolution in China in the late 1970s Jing, an educated youth (zhishi qingnian) who has spent a few years as a peasant in the countryside, becomes a truck driver in a provincial shipyard. He manages to teach himself English in adverse circumstances while driving his truck, eventually passing the examination to get into the English Class at Donghu University. There, he meets with classmates from vastly different cultural backgrounds and falls in love with Deirdre, the estranged partner of Dr Wagner the English teacher. This engaging and masterful novel explores the aspiration of many to migrate to English speaking countries. Like much of Ouyang's work it subtly deconstructs the mechanisms of colonialism against an increasingly vibrant Chinese economy. The vivid fictional life of a Chinese truck driver who aspires to the western life is finely realised.
The English Class is a triumph, a novel at once wise, brave and entertaining.
At the end of the Cultural Revolution in China in the late 1970s, a young truck driver called Jing manages to teach himself English in adverse circumstances, and eventually passes the examination to get into a University English class. There he falls in love with the estranged wife of the English teacher and later finds his way to Australia.
This disturbing novel explores the aspiration of many to migrate to English-speaking countries, and examines the insidious effects of colonialism and deracination. But more than this, it is an evocation of the power of language to shape our identity and to make sense of ourselves in a dislocated world. Ouyang Yu's vivid account of a Chinese truck driver who aspires to the western life overturns barriers to intercultural understanding with panache, brutal honesty and insight.