Reviews for Cries in the Drizzle

Booklist Reviews 2007 October #2
Sun Guanglin is only six years old when his parents send him to live with a solider and his sick wife who cannot have a child of their own. Six years later, after the soldier's tragic death, Guanglin is forced to find his own way back to his family. His homecoming, in the midst of a devastating fire that destroys his family's house, is not what he had hoped for. His family ostracizes him, and in turn, he withdraws from them. When his younger brother, Guangming, drowns saving another boy, his father, Sun Kwangtsai, becomes unhinged, first certain that Guangming will be acknowledged as a state hero, then attacking the family of the boy he saved when they refuse to offer him monetary recompense. After a stint in jail, Sun Kwangtsai returns a changed man--but not for the better. Interspersed with the family tragedy are lighter vignettes, such as Guanglin's sometimes embarrassing and awkward sexual awakening. Moving backward and forward in time, Hua's novel offers a vibrant portrait of one boy's coming-of-age. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 August #2
Now in English translation, the 1991 novel by bestselling Chinese author Yu Hua (To Live, 2003).Yu's first full-length work--actually, a serpentine, episodic collection of anecdotes forming a kind of Maoist-era kinderscenen--details the boyhood of Sun Guanglin and his encounters with some dreadfully unfortunate (or just plain dreadful) people in two Chinese rural villages--the discordantly Midwestern-sounding "Southgate" and "Littlemarsh." Guanglin's father, Kwangtsai, beats him, tries unsuccessfully to capitalize on youngest son Guangming's death by drowning and molests both women in elder son Guangping's life. Kwangtsai cavorts with the nymphomaniac widow next door, giving her his wife's household goods, then starves his own father and ultimately drinks himself to death. Guanglin's Littlemarsh adoptive parents, to whom he's farmed out at age six, turn him into a household servant and entrust his education to sadistic teachers. The foster father dies spectacularly (suicide by grenade) after blowing up the apartment of the woman who exposed his extra-marital affair. Alone once more, Guanglin, now 12, borrows the fare from another unwanted child, his friend Guoqing, and returns home to where the story began: Kwangtsai's cottage is engulfed in flames. Flashbacks reveal that Guanglin's grandfather, Sun Youyuan, fled the Japanese invasion and rescued a former aristocrat and fellow refugee, Guanglin's grandmother, who was turned out of her mandarin home because she happened to glimpse two sparrows mating. Youyuan saves the rice harvest by urging Southgate residents to toss out their Buddha figurines, but then dies, convinced his soul has already departed. Guanglin's friends are equally doomed: Schoolmate Su Yu, after doing time in reform school for embracing a girl, dies of a brain hemorrhage while his family follow their morning routine, assuming Yu is sleeping late. Guoqing, whose father abruptly remarried, leaving the nine-year-old with a spooky old lady, prospers from subsidies from other relatives but at 13 is arrested for attacking a family who won't let him court their daughter. A grainy montage of suffering and survival, by turns morbid and mordant. Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2007 September #1

Originally published in Taipei in 1992, this latest from Yu (Chronicle of a Blood Merchant ) details the Sun family's tumultuous experiences in rural China. The novel is narrated by Sun Gaunglin, the middle son of Sun Kwangtsai, and presented in a series of loosely connected vignettes. One of the early tragedies befalling the family is the youngest son's death after he appears to have saved his eight-year-old companion from drowning. When news of the boy's evidently heroic action is announced, the father develops visions of grandeur, but they are soon quashed when he is arrested over a matter relating to the family of the rescued child. The middle of the novel is filled with background information, while the last third focuses on the five years Sun Guanglin spends in another town after being sent away to be "adopted" by a childless couple at the age of six. As in his novel To Live , Yu's writing here is most definitely not upbeat. Yet even among the work's more emotionally difficult moments, Yu manages to sprinkle in some sardonic humor. Not for everyone, but readers who can appreciate the universal themes of hardship and survival will definitely find this story worthwhile. For larger public and academic libraries.--Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 August #1

In its first English translation, the debut novel by Yu Hua (author of the subsequent novels To Live and Chronicle of a Blood Merchant ) depicts a family's life in the Zhejiang province of Maoist China during the 1970s. At both the core and outskirts of the family is narrator Sun Guanglin, a middle son who is given up for adoption and returns, five years later at age 12, after tragedy befalls his adoptive family. The narrative flits between time and space to create the landscape of Sun Guanglin's youth: his family's home burns down shortly after he returns, a local wedding takes on macabre overtones, a death in the family leads to ill-fated homespun opportunism and family loyalty is fleeting. As memories converge, the line between fantasy and reality blurs, leading Sun Guanglin to observe, "Our lives after all, are not rooted in the soil as much as they are rooted in time.... Time pushes us forward or back, and alters our aspect." Though the fractured structure has its disjointed moments, Barr's translation perfectly captures the ebb and flow of a community on the brink of change. (Oct.)

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