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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Xu Xing

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Title: 剩下都属于你
Author: Xu Xing
Genre: Novel
Written: 2003
Length: 217 pages
Original in: Chinese
Availability: Et tout ce qui reste est pour toi - French
Und alles, was bleibt, ist für dich - Deutschland
  • 剩下都属于你 has not yet been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B : fine melancholy- comic novel of being adrift in late-1980s China

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Neue Zürcher Zeitung A- 16/11/2004 Ludger Lütkehaus

  From the Reviews:
  • "Das Buch ist ein Feuerwerk an Einfällen, an Witz, an präziser Beobachtung. (...) Gattungsgemäss gibt es keine Einheit der Handlung, es sei denn, man wollte das Reisen und Vagabundieren so verstehen. Umso mehr kommt es auf diesen chinesischen Picaro und seine Welterfahrung an. Satire und Selbstironie gehen Hand in Hand." - Ludger Lütkehaus, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       剩下都属于你 ('Whatever's Left is Yours') is set in the late 1980s, and narrated by an anonymous young man who hasn't really managed to fit in very well in fast changing post-Maoist China. Literally going his own way is, in fact, his only ambition and, when possible, occupation, as he travels around the country (and eventually abroad) whenever and wherever he can. The book begins with him cycling madly through the countryside, and it's this relatively aimless travelling about that gives him about all the satisfaction that he needs.
       In his twenties, he's managed to get by well enough so far, and doesn't expect to change his ways. Occasionally there are temptations -- the idea of settling down, his diary-keeping and writing -- but life on the road draws him most.
       His soul-mate, Xi Yong, joins him on the first trip that is described, but even with him the adventures are relatively small: they make some money by appearing in a film, for example, but that's about as adventurous as it gets. Xi Yong, however, is somewhat more ambitious (and his family place greater demands on him), and eventually sets off for Germany to work in the restaurant of an Auntie there. Once there he constantly badgers the narrator to come join him.
       Xi Yong's European adventures are considerably more dramatic: the aunt takes advantage of him in the restaurant, not even paying him minimum wage, but he manages to turn the tables (with the help of a Chinese mathematician who has led an even wilder life, brought down by a bridge-playing obsession) and set himself up quite nicely for a while.
       The narrator vaguely plans to join his friend, but from the passport application on through the rest of the bureaucracy it all takes a while. Meanwhile, he sets his sights on Tibet, though getting there isn't all that easy either. Eventually he makes it to Europe too. He gets a (depressing) factory job there -- but is at least able to earn what amounts to a fortune in China in a few months -- and embarks on a few small and large adventures. He doesn't last very long, however, -- buddy Xi Yong makes for some fun times, but that comes to an abrupt end -- and returns to a China that is now also changing rapidly.
       Xu Xing's narrator is laid back and indifferent, but not in the usual haughty way: he simply sees that he doesn't fit in well in this world, and simply slides along as best he can. He only rarely gets involved in any way with other people (though when he's paid to accompany some women by a -- as it finally dawns on him -- people-trafficker he draws the line and helps them escape), and plays second fiddle to his few friends. Slightly overwhelmed by it all (and that means pretty much everything), he's sympathetic in his golly-gee reactions -- too aware to come across as naïve, but also aware that he can't really participate in the way most others do.
       Some of the small adventures and scenes are particularly successful -- glimpses of the complicated worlds in China (and Tibet) as well as Europe -- but the novel does occasionally have a pieced-together feel, the whole not entirely cohesive.
       剩下都属于你 offers an interesting glimpse of China in the late 1980s and early 1990s, rapidly changing, but hard for anyone who doesn't want to fling themselves in the modernising currents to keep up with.

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剩下都属于你: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Chinese author Xu Xing (徐星) was born in 1956.

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