The English-language nonfiction debut one of China's most highly regarded writers, winner of the Franz Kafka Prize and twice finalist for the International Booker Prize, "Three Brothers" is a memoir of the author's childhood and family life during the Cultural Revolution.
If Yan’s memoir owes its existence to family, it is because every blessing in Yan’s life owed its existence to family, as Yan’s unflinching self-examination demonstrates plainly ... arresting ... as a peasant who was able to write himself out of the fields and into international celebrity, Yan poignantly shows that the most effective antidote to death is gratitude.
... delicately translated ... moments spark extended passages of philosophical reflection. The timeline contributes to the feeling that this is not a traditional memoir. Major life events such as marriage and the births of children get passing mentions, while others, such as the university admissions test, feature repeatedly in different contexts, throwing light on his relationships with his father, First Uncle and Fourth Uncle. Indeed, Three Brothers is more about them than it is about Yan ... His prose is at once reverential and detached. It’s clear that although he means this book to be a tribute to the three brothers, he also suspects it might be meaningless.
After decades of glimpsing autobiographical hints in his always intriguing, often surreal novels and short stories, Anglophone audiences get access to Yan Lianke's real life ... Carlos Rojas returns as Yan's excellent translator ... Meandering through his past, Yan shows you can--and should--go home again