My Life as Emperor by Su Tong

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In this chilling yet enormously entertaining tale by acclaimed Chinese writer Su Tong, a pampered and nave 14-year-old prince finds himself, suddenly and unexpectedly, named as Emperor and placed in the position of lord and ruler over an entire nation. A boy of few talents and limited interests, he soon grows drunk on his own power and learns to wield an iron fist in dealing with subjects inside and outside the palace. Narrated in retrospect by the ex-Emperor, this is a mesmerizing story of cruelty and decadence, of concubines and eunuchs, of lethal imperial rivalries and royal court intrigue.

Su Tong is one of the most celebrated Chinese writers today. The New York Times calls him "an imaginative and skillful storyteller." The publication of this book -- his first in almost ten years -- will be an international literary event. His innovative, deftly constructed novels remain at the forefront of a growing body of work by a coterie of writers who have exposed new facts about China's past and posed vital questions regarding the country's future.


About Su Tong

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Su Tong was born in Suzhou in 1963 and graduated from Beijing Normal University with a degree in Chinese literature. He is the author of Raise the Red Lantern, also available from Perennial. Su Tong lives in Nanjing. HOWARD GOLDBLATT and SYLVIA LI-CHUN LIN are translators of Chu T'ien-wen's Notes of a Desolate Man, which was named the 1999 Translation of the Year by the American Literary Translators Association. They live in South Bend, Indiana.
Published January 1, 2006 by Faber and Faber. 304 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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All these Naos relive the past as well as interact with his nearest and dearest (wife, concubines, children), his former handyman Lan Lian and such disturbing avatars of Mao’s new society as militia commander and bean counter Huang Tong and Nao’s upwardly mobile, amoral son Ximen Jinlong.

Feb 15 2008 | Read Full Review of My Life as Emperor

Kirkus Reviews

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Su Tong crafts a rapid succession of vivid scenes dramatizing the boy emperor’s proneness to impulsive decision-making and irrational brutality, his immature fixations on the dream of becoming a circus tightrope walker and on the superior freedom and grace exhibited by birds—while focusing on rel...

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Publishers Weekly

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Tong's lush prose style ("The corpses looked like wooden logs lying in the snow-covered wheat fields, though the rank smell of blood hovered above them") provides the perfect counterpoint, as well as startling detail and texture, to the perilous court life it recounts.

Jan 31 2005 | Read Full Review of My Life as Emperor

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