Three Brothers is Yan’s first work of nonfiction to appear in English. It will offer new territory for his American readers, who will begin to understand the real-life man behind his acclaimed novels.
There has been a huge surge of interest in Yan Lianke’s writing after Jiayang Fan’s profile appeared in the New Yorker in October 2018. His dissenting voice is all the more important as Xi Jinping’s regime becomes ever more restrictive. Yan Lianke figures each year as a favored candidate for the Nobel Prize and he deserves this highest of literary honors.
Yan is expected to travel to New York to be part of the PEN World Voices Festival in 2020, around the publication of this title. PEN are huge supporters of Yan’s work and we are thrilled he should be able to join for the festival for the first time in almost a decade. We are committed to building Yan’s profile and think this is the book that could break him out to a wider audience.
Yan’s previous novel, The Day the Sun Died, received extraordinary praise and media attention. He was interviewed on NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” the first time he has done national radio—NPR requested him despite the need for an interpreter and the challenges of setting up the interview in Beijing. Ron Charles wrote in the Washington Post that “Yan is one of those rare geniuses who finds in the peculiar absurdities of his own culture the absurdities that infect all cultures,” and the New York Times Book Review raved, “Yan’s subject is China, but he has condensed the human forces driving today’s global upheavals into a bracing, universal vision.”
Yan was the first Chinese writer to win the Franz Kafka Prize, and has been twice short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize (most recently for The Four Books), as well as the Prix Femina Étranger, the Financial Times Oppenheimer Emerging Voices Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and the Man Asian Literary Award.
We will follow publication of Three Brothers in 2021 with a novel entitled Hard Like Water, which echoes the themes of Yan’s best-known novel Serve the People. With the brilliant writing and literary power one expects from Yan, it nonetheless invokes a comic, lighter mode in its story of two revolutionaries engaging in an illicit relationship during the Cultural Revolution.