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The Fat Years

A Novel

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Banned in China, this controversial and politically charged novel tells the story of the search for an entire month erased from official Chinese history.
Beijing, sometime in the near future: a month has gone missing from official records. No one has any memory of it, and no one could care less—except for a small circle of friends, who will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the sinister cheerfulness and amnesia that have possessed the Chinese nation. When they kidnap a high-ranking official and force him to reveal all, what they learn—not only about their leaders, but also about their own people—stuns them to the core. It is a message that will astound the world.

A kind of Brave New World reflecting the China of our times, The Fat Years is a complex novel of ideas that reveals all too chillingly the machinations of the postmodern totalitarian state, and sets in sharp relief the importance of remembering the past to protect the future.

From Publishers Weekly

Nov 14, 2011 – In the near future, China the premier world superpower has entered an unprecedented era of prosperity. Successful writer Lao Chen is one of the happy ones, until some old friends start to nag him with a troubling fact: an entire month is missing from history. Between the collapse of the Western financial system and the Chinese ascendance, a month was erased from official memory. With a ragtag band of friends, including the beguiling woman with whom he s fallen in love, Lao Chen gropes toward the brutal truth underlying this government-imposed collective happiness. As Koonchung writes: Between a good hell and a fake paradise which one would you choose? Part political thriller, part dystopian nightmare, the journey through 20th-century Chinese history bears misleading comparisons to Brave New World, since these characters are little more than mouthpieces for discussions about politics. As a result, this first English translation of Koonchung s fiction, an underground sensation in China, feels flat, a quality exacerbated by the novel s uneven pace and lengthy digressions into historical and political minutiae. However, Koonchung (founder of Hong Kong s City Magazine) reveals the moral and political perils of contemporary Chinese life, and a better translation may allow this novel to flourish.

Customer Reviews

a good novel for masochists

this book should come with a warning label.

it’s supposed to be a novel, fer chrissakes. not a synopsis of china’s political and economic history. if they’d sold is as the latter, i’d give it five stars. but as a novel, it blows.

i bought the audiobook rather than the print version. the narrator does quite a nice job. i listened to it while teaching myself to knit, fortunately. at least something useful came out of the time.

the story’s split into two sections–the “story” part, and the epilogue. if you can grit your teeth through all the long political diatribes in the first part, you are rewarded in the epilogue (which is nearly as long as the story part, in terms of audiobook time). i’m certain that the author wrote the first part as a bit of pandering to popular taste–making a (not very convincing) love story in order to drag the reader through the contemporary politics lesson. but it’s not a patch on the dullness of the epilogue.

when the epilogue started, i was already quite exhausted from shrieking “get on with it!” to my poor iPod. but the epilogue is a whole new kettle of fish: a long, long, long, long, long monologue by a communist party hack.

it became an endurance test for me. i don’t like not finishing books, and since i had at least nine more feet of Dr. Who scarf to knit, i had plenty to keep me distracted. mr. hack began with a five-part lesson in political history, and then moved on to the more thrilling subject of economics, finally ending with a short course in methods of social control. at 3am, i finally crawled across the finish line.

i felt like i’d been held in a chinese political prison, forced to endure re-education.

let it be said that for those who know zip about china’s recent history, it can be pretty enlightening. i’ve no doubt that the very knowledge gap a chinese citizen is likely to have about her own country is the problem the writer was addressing. but if you do know something about contemporary china, it is a painful grind.

however, the entire epilogue was just cruel.

if you’d like to read an actual novel about contemporary china, read Mo Yan. now that man knows how to tell a story, and i do hope in future that mr. chan will undertake some study of the novel form rather than merely lecturing his readers.

The Fat Years
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Jan 10, 2012
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings