The Seventh Day

With this book, Yu Hua (Boy in the Twilight) and his translator Allan H. Barr offer English-speaking readers a glimpse into two foreign lands--the life of the lower class in modern China and a vision of an afterlife in which class continues to determine one's destiny.

Yang Fei wakes up dead at age 41, marked by untended wounds and with his facial features out of alignment. Invisible to the living, he walks through a heavy fog to keep his appointment at the funeral parlor, where the dead await their turn to be cremated. He quickly realizes he doesn't belong among the VIPs, with their grandly named urns, and has no place even among the commoners, whose families provided for them in death. Alone in the world, Fei had no one to prepare him for cremation, and without an urn or gravesite, his ashes will have nowhere to go, so he sets out on two quests: first, to find the cause of his own death and then to find his deceased father. Along the way, Fei runs across several deceased people from his past, connections both intimate and tangential. Although these somewhat disparate encounters and flashbacks give the novel an episodic quality, the story of Fei's assimilation into the afterlife gradually emerges.

Working from a rather morbid premise, Yu manages to make death seem like another phase of life, show the better side of human nature and get in a few digs at politicians and inequality along the way. Readers with a taste for the bittersweet will find that Yang Fei's week among the dead hits the spot. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Powered by: Xtenit