What is it?
Points of Origin is a single author collection by Chinese author Diao Dou, the first appearance of the author’s collected works in English.
Diao Dou was born in 1960 in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China. Since graduating from the Beijing Broadcasting Institute in 1983, he has worked as a journalist and latterly as a literary editor. Although his first book was a collection of poetry, he is best known as an author of novels and short stories. Diao Dou is wildly regarded as one of China’s leading satirists, praised for his refusal to follow any of the numerous literary trends that often dominate the Chinese literary scene. In 2003, he was awarded the ninth annual Zhuang Zhongwen Prize for Literature.
A letter-writing campaign goes awry when a law is passed that only allows people to walk the streets at night, if they maintain a squatting position at all times…
A town is overrun with cockroaches; despite the government’s official expressions of concern, the only person doing anything about it is branded an agitator…
A widower is forced to move into the city to live with his son, bringing his cat and his strange country ways with him…
The short stories in this collection perform a kind of high-wire literary acrobatics; each one executes an immaculate mid-air transition, from closely observed social realism to surrealist parody, and back again. Covering all aspects of modern Chinese life – from the high-minded morals of an emerging middle class, to the vividly remembered hardships of an all-too-recent collectivist past – these stories offer a very particular window into the contemporary Chinese psyche, and show a culture struggling to keep pace with the extraordinary transformations that have befallen it in the space of a single lifetime.
Why this book?
One of the Guardian‘s Best Books of 2015, English PEN winner, “a worthy addition to the still currently patchy mosaic of what constitutes Chinese literature in English translation” according to Asian Review of Books, as well as one of our most striking cover designs, we couldn’t leave this book out of this year’s sale.
Diao’s mastery of the short form, his satirical look at society and the brilliance of his story telling encapsulate everything we love in a Comma collection. 2016 has been a stellar year for Comma translation titles and we hope that we can continue this success in 2017.
Who should you buy this for?
“Diao Dou’s writing finds its roots in a soil rich with personal experiences set against contemporary Chinese society. With Kafka-esque absurdity, his stories give us the impression that we are looking into a kaleidoscope of themes both tantalizing and mesmerizing.” – Xiaolu Guo, author of ‘I am China’
Fans of 2016 Man Booker International Prize shortlisted ‘The Four Books’ by another noted Chinese satirical author Yan Lianke. Perhaps just fans of a great satire, such as Man Booker Prize winning novel The Sellout by Paul Beatty; but rather than America, Diao holds his mirror up to his home nation of China.
Watch the translator of the collection, Brendan O’Kane, talk about the translation process and Chinese literature HERE.
Listen to the audio from Free Word of a discussion between author Diao, translator Brendan, interpreter Eva Xu and Comma’s Sam at an event in October 2015 HERE.
For more reviews and to purchase the book at the exclusive discounted price of £6, click HERE.