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Lenin's Kisses

by Yan Lianke

In an allegorical re-telling of China’s Cultural Revolution, wacky money-making schemes are devised by the County Chief to enrich a poor region of long-suffering peasants, via an unusual tourist attraction. This absurdist tragi-comedy reads like fragments of a long-lost suppressed epic, parodying the conventions of historical scholarship with quotations and footnotes to every chapter.

Extract

He roared: One million a day, ten million in ten days, a hundred million in three months, and three hundred and seventy million a year. Three hundred and seventy million – and this would be just from the sale of admissions tickets. In addition to the Lenin Mausoleum, the Lenin Forest Park will also have … endless scenery for you to enjoy. If you climb the mountain to visit the Lenin Mausoleum, you will need to purchase a constant stream of admissions tickets, to the point that it will even be necessary to remain up on the mountain for a night or two. This, in turn, will involve paying for a hotel room and for meals. Even a box of tissues will cost two yuan. Just think, a tourist visiting the mountain will, at the very least, need to spend five hundred yuan? How much money would ten thousand tourists spend? They would give us five million yuan!

Parallels

Blindness by Jose Saramago
Tristram Shandy by Lawrence Sterne
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