Author(s): BI VIVIAN
Shi Ding is seventeen. In an attempt to impress a girl, he joins a local Red Guard unit and succeeds in having a nine-year-old boy arrested and a widowed professor of foreign literature driven to a shameful suicide. But when his father's death is also revealed as suicide, Shi Ding is expelled from the gang. He suspects there was more to the relationship between his father and the professor than friendship and he moves into her empty house. There he discovers a library of translations of forbidden Western classics. Himself a born storyteller, he is transfixed by the stories in these books by the likes of Dostoevsky, Stendhal, Hugo, Dickens, and Dumas ... Set in China in the mid-60s, Dragon's Gate is about the power of storytelling. Within its overarching narrative, there are stories of little-known worlds: river logging in remote mountains, armed fighting between Red Guard factions, fortune telling on long train journeys, community life in the courtyards of Beijing hutong. Memorable characters abound in this rich and varied tale - characters like Sun Lanfen, the nosy, tough but decent residential compound leader; the blind singer who was struck dumb when he had to sing songs set to Chairman Mao's quotations; and the Buffalo Boy who was reputed to have fathered a hundred children in a Tibetan village.