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Shifu, You'll Do Anything for a Laugh
"If China has a Kafka, it may be Mo Yan. Like Kafka, Yan (The Republic of Wine; Red Sorghum) has the ability to examine his society through a variety of lenses, creating fanciful, Metamorphosis-like transformations or evoking the numbing bureaucracy and casual cruelty of modern governments. The title novella of this collection of eight tales chronicles the story of old Ding, whose 43 years of dedicated service to the Municipal Farm Equipment Factory have earned him the honorific Shifu, or master worker. Despite this praise, Ding is abruptly laid off one month before his retirement. After contemplating his options including setting himself on fire in protest Ding decides to go with a more entrepreneurial approach, converting an abandoned bus into a cottage-for-hire for lovers. As an old man getting his first taste of capitalism, he serves as a symbol for many of those facing struggles in modern China." - Publisher's Weekly