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The banquet bug
Geling Yan
Adult Fiction YAN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Yan, whose short fiction was the basis for the movie Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl, offers a pointed critique of capitalism's rise in her native China. A multifaceted mistaken-identity farce, Yan's novel chronicles the adventures of Dan Dong, a laid-off factory worker who wanders into a lavish banquet where journalists are wined and dined and receive "money for your troubles" fees for listening to-and hopefully reporting on-the presentations of corporations and charities. Dan quickly orders business cards that "said he was a reporter from some Internet news site," and hops aboard the banquet gravy train. Yan revels in the absurdity of her premise, and her over-the-top descriptions of banquet fare underscore her outrage at the few who gorge themselves on "animals from remote mountains and forests" while millions starve. The story changes gears, though, when Dan's reportage leads him into a dangerous, far-reaching scandal and he is arrested during a crackdown on "banquet bugs." Yan's concept is clever, but wooden dialogue and some awkward descriptions make it clear that English is not her mother tongue, though this also leads to some seductively nuanced moments ("He smells rather than hears her words carried on her smoky breath") that hint at her enormous potential. (July 11) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Yan's first book to be written in English exposes corruption and scandal in the author's native China. At its center is Dan Dong, an unemployed factory worker living in Beijing and scrimping by with the help of his loyal and loving wife. Sumptuous gourmet offerings tempt Dan to become a "banquet bug"-someone who uses a false identity to eat freely at state-sponsored banquets. While masquerading as a journalist to savor exotic fare like peacock and shark fin, Dan is introduced to distasteful acts of bribery, fraud, and institutionalized brutality and abuse largely victimizing rural residents and women. As time passes, he is reluctantly drawn deeper into endeavors that expose moral decay almost everywhere. Readers will enjoy Yan's juxtaposition of epicurean delights with Dan's experience of dark gruel and canned food beyond expiration. Ultimately, Yan's well-paced novel questions the media's place at the table with corporate and government representatives as much as it finds China's emerging capitalism unappetizing. This book's predictable success, plus Yan's previous achievements with short story collections (e.g., White Snake), demonstrate why Yan is among the few Chinese authors to receive critical acclaim both in the United States and in mainland China. Highly recommended.-Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Lib., Eugene (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Dan Dong
Laid off; factory worker; pretends to be a journalist so he can attend banquets for free; struggling to separate his false and real identities.

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