peteg's blog - noise - books - 2011 11 18 ChanKoonchung TheFatYears

Chan Koonchung: The Fat Years

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Ah yes, another GFC novel. This one is set in 2013 (I think), but really it is 1984, Brave New World and an entire third devoted to economic didacticism. In brief: China uses the GFC to turn inwards, to found a new era of satisfaction, complacency, whatever. Oh, let me spoil it for you: there's something in the water. Now you need not read it.

I pulled this out of the ANU Menzies Library on the strength of Linda Jaivin's review at Inside Story. Her review is far superior to the source material, which is a mostly skillful synthesis of overly familiar dystopian tropes, with some nice Chinese touches, such as the Red cinematic canon and the nomadism of Fang Caodi. The final third (where all is revealed!) is flabby and tedious. I found the whole thing overly predictable; there is nothing as arresting as Orwell's image of a boot stamping on a human face here. I ploughed through it hoping to find something so durable, and came away knowing that it's just another fad.