It's over ten years since Muo has visited China. When Muo hears that his first great love has been thrown into a Chinese jail for selling a newspaper article to the foreign press, he feels he must rush home and rescue her. He returns to a China where everyone is corruptible, provided you find the right bribe.
In 1971, Mao's campaign against the intellectuals is at its height. The narrator of this book and his best friend, Luo, have been sent to a mountain village to be 're-educated'. Their true re-education starts, however, when they discover a comrade's hidden stash of classics of great nineteenth-century Western literature in Chinese translation.
A young French woman in Peking in the late 1970s interprets between Chinese professors and Bertolucci for his film The Last Emperor. Afterwards, she follows a disgruntled old professor who tells her about a text believed to be taken directly from Buddha's teachings and inscribed on silk cloth centuries ago.
Here is one of those rare novels, so captivatingly original, so absurdly funny, surprising and moving, that it crosses all boundaries. Now a major motion picture.