The April 3rd Incident: Stories by Yu Hua, translated by Allan H. Barr [in Library Journal]
Clearly the internationally lauded Yu Hua’s translator of choice, Pomona professor Allan H. Barr anglophones seven early stories Yu (Brothers) wrote between 1987 and 1991. In his edifying introduction, Barr explains that during China’s “post-Mao liberalization” (from the late 1970s into early 1980s), “writers devoted their energies to broaching topics that had been off-limits.” By the late 1980s, authors such as Yu began challenging not just content but also experimenting with “a new narrative mode.”
The narrative could be “elliptical,” as in “In Memory of Miss Willow Yang,” about a corneal transplant that links a dead teenager to a peripatetic “outlander”; “indeterminate,” as in the title story, whose date suggests a major historic event yet to happen in an aimless, lonely 18-year-old’s future; and “oblique,” as in “Summer Typhoon,” featuring villagers preparing for a predicted earthquake.
In “As the North Wind Howled,” Yu names himself as the man dragged from bed to attend a dying friend he’s never met. In “Death Chronicle,” a truck driver’s hit-and-run accidents ultimately cause his own demise. In “A History of Two People,” two children from disparate social classes share a childhood, then continue to reconnect during brief encounters marking tumultuous decades.
Verdict: A provocative collection for cosmopolitan readers with a penchant for international fiction.