Young Babylon

Young Babylon

Lu Nei

Language: English

Pages: 328

ISBN: 1477829997

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Knowing nothing more than the working-class life he is born into, headstrong Lu Xiaolu reluctantly starts down the path he is expected to follow. At age nineteen in 1990s China, he feels pressure to follow suit with those around him and takes a job at the town’s saccharin factory. Slowly, he adjusts to the bureaucratic factory routine, making the best of the situation by bonding with coworkers, flirting with girls, and refusing to give in completely to the expectations of those around him.

As Lu Xiaolu finds his way, a startling portrait of an economically expanding China comes into view; the propaganda of a common goal gives way to a bottom-line system that he sees as indifferent to individual happiness. But thanks to the relationships he develops, Lu Xiaolu decides to fight for the life he wants.

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from the workers below, and a couple of randy supervisors pulled aunties into the crowd to ballroom-dance. When I’d finished my two songs, the judges’ scoreboard lit up with 9.99! The union official was at the side, clenching his teeth. I raised my right hand above my head, waved at the audience, patted my chest, and gave a farewell bow. This was the interlude between the worker-poet Lu Xiaolu leaving the stage of his day shift and moving over to the saccharin workshop to work the three shifts.

yearn for this mystical place and feel consumed with regret. There are too many things that you don’t get to do in your lifetime, and while it’s not worth crying over, not going with her to Tibet when I was twenty is something I’ll always regret. “Xiaolu, with all your life experiences so far, what’s the thing that scares you most?” I told her I was most scared of three shifts: your days and nights inverted, working until the point of delirium, having a resurgence of your teenage acne, your

he had a workshop internship with the bench worker team. He had a bit of a stutter, and every time he came across Old Bad-Ass he got so scared he couldn’t speak. From that moment, electronics and mechanics college graduate Wei Yixin became in charge of collecting fuel, while high school graduate Lu Xiaolu fixed water pumps. I couldn’t figure out if this was wasting human resources, but at least I never had to pick up trash again. Wei Yixin was a very hardworking apprentice and would collect fuel

would be more effective than smashing a hundred thermoses.” “Do you have a condition that makes you feel unwell if you don’t mention Xiao Bi at least once a day?” she asked. “There’s an alternative. I’ll go punch Director Wu.” “Punching him won’t do one bit of good,” she said. I explained to her that workers didn’t actually care about food poisoning. As long as it didn’t kill them, it wasn’t a big deal. What the workers cared about was the diarrhea itself. The chemical factory’s workers had

our hands. We promised we wouldn’t say anything, but Long Legs was still not convinced. “Let’s swear brotherhood to each other,” he suggested suddenly. “That way you two can’t rat me out.” “How about you become our sworn sister instead?” I said, mocking him. Long Legs opened his eyes wide at me and said, “You really don’t respect me at all, do you, Lu Xiaolu?” I didn’t want him to take it the wrong way—I was worried he might actually cry himself to death. So I told him we would be sworn

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