The English Class, a new novel now out, by Ouyang Yu
The English Class
In store: 1 September 2010
All rights: Transit Lounge
‘an utterly authentic story which deepens our understanding of both Chinese and Australian culture, an epic journey across languages and cultures, recounted with all Ouyang Yu’s compelling honesty and passion.’ Alex Miller ‘The English Class gives us a vividly remembered China that has changed beyond recognition and a protagonist whose life is equally full of twists and turns. But more than that it’s a book of language, creatively used, explored, challenged. How do we make sense of things, how do we live, how do we express ourselves, in this unruly, unreliable, irrepressible medium? Ouyang Yu asks those questions like no one else, and the experience is surprising, exhilarating and moving.’ Nicholas Jose
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 beautifully and evocatively realised.
The English Class is a triumph, a novel at once wise, brave and entertaining.