Read Civil Servant's Notebook by Wang Xiaofang Online


A northeastern city in Dongzhou province needs a new Mayor, and there are plenty of hungry candidates eager for the top job. And as the mandarins of the local Communist Party go through the motions of selecting their candidate, the secretive corridors of government are awash with insinuation and subterfuge. Dangerous factions begin to form around the two contenders and lonA northeastern city in Dongzhou province needs a new Mayor, and there are plenty of hungry candidates eager for the top job. And as the mandarins of the local Communist Party go through the motions of selecting their candidate, the secretive corridors of government are awash with insinuation and subterfuge. Dangerous factions begin to form around the two contenders and longstanding rivals, the Vice-Mayors Liu Yihe and Peng Guoliang. Devious plots, seduction, and bribery are all on the table in a no-holds-barred scramble for political prestige and personal gain.But, when the personal notebook of a high-up official is exposed to the powers that be - the government's own internal enforcement brigade – its humble pages initiate an office wide manhunt for the anonymous notebook sender, casting a suspicious eye over everyone from lowly department researchers to Vice-Mayors. But what the culprit fails to foresee is that they have started the ball rolling on an investigation that threatens to swallow everyone, including themselves, into the eye of a political storm the likes of which have never been seen in Dongzhou. Not even the most practiced of civil servants can predict just who will outmaneuver the consequences, and it is likely that no one will remain unscathed.In the spirit of Andrej Kurkov comes a satirical absurdist blend which blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction in China's halls of power. Penned by a former insider, The Civil Servant's Notebook offers a glimpse into the distorted psyches of those who roam those guarded halls. Told through multiple narrators, Wang Xiaofang crafts a unique and complex tale of official mischief where civil servants prioritize personal welfare over public welfare and 'serve the people' is just about the last thing on their minds…...

Title : Civil Servant's Notebook
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 19435756
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 287 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Civil Servant's Notebook Reviews

  • Joy Ramlogan
    2019-03-08 19:03

    This is the first book of Wang Xiofang to be translated in English and after reading this wonderful satire of public service in China, I wait in anticipation of more. Mr. Xiofang writes from the position of experience as he was a career civil servant - which in ancient China and it appears in the Republic of China is a respectable position. The notebook is akin to several short stories each centered on a different character even a Chair (which hilariously reminisces on the impetus a throne gives to the sitter). This is ironic irreverent laughter starting with progression by drinking urine every day for five years as part of traditional Chinese medicine and more importantly to move ahead in the department to the witchunt for the corrupt public official. and the competition between the two candidates for Mayor and their respective cohorts of followers - very feudal and very modern,here is office politics at its finest coupled with anecdotes of philosophy and pseudo-philosophy. The Chinese civil service revealed in all its glory and decadence pays homage to "plus ca change, plus la meme". Delightfully surprising.

  • Marks54
    2019-03-22 00:11

    Given the nearly uninterrupted growth in China since the economic reforms of 1978, it is fascinating to see how the Chinese view their life on the job. This has been brought up powerfully by American observers of the Chinese economic transformation, in such books as Factory Girls or Country Driving. But these are the accounts of observers. You also occasionally see the emerging work culture in movies. My favorite is Last Train Home. But how do the Chinese themselves think about work? Language is a problem here. It turns out that there is an entire literature of "officialdom" in which work is the central focus. This is apparently a huge area for books in China. Because of this, I was intrigued to hear that one of the major works of this genre, The Civil Servant's Notebook, had been translated.The book is a fictionalized account of an unfolding corruption scandal in a large NE China city and the plot suggests a similar very real scandal, in which the author was peripherally involved -- the one where the convicted mayor was executed for corruption. The plot unfolds through a series of short chapters that give the perspective of one of the involved parties as the events of the plot unfold. It is like reading through a story on the basis of a chronological file of depositions to the police or the district attorney.The book depicts a very odd world. To start with, everyone is out to vigorously pursue their career advancement and status. They do this through any and all possible means. Lies and slander are normal. Social climbing, if necessary at the expense of others, is common. Talk is cheap and nobody appears to ever do anything in the office except talk. Much of the talk is not even meant to be "reality based" so all the characters seem to be proficient at BS. Corruption is rampant and includes bribery, theft, blackmail, and sexual commerce. The only thing that matters appears to be coming out on top. The strangest part of this is that nobody appears interested in what they are actually supposed to be doing to earn their pay. Nobody seems to discuss job performance, professional qualifications, or the like.I had thought that there would be a bigger role for ideology - after all, the Communist Part is still in charge. But there is little of that. Everyone is striving, but there is little mention of what besides personal aggrandizement is the object of striving. One of the more political discussions in the book occurs early on when a character at a dinner function wishes to impress his superior by making a reference to Machiavelli and his wisdom regarding power. As soon as this "brown noser" finishes however, he is immediately brought to task for failing to recognize the importance of the political and economic context of renaissance Florence and how that differs from the current Chinese context.When was the last work function you attended at which such a discussion of Machiavelli could occur?The literature in the US on workplace interactions is not very interesting. Maybe "The Office" on TV is an exception. In that case, this book depicts a world like the one in "The Office", but where everyone is generally smart (although not wise), everyone is as clueless at the Dwight character, and everyone has internalized the principles of Machiavelli. It is a scary place.The book is hard to follow, in part due to the multiple perspectives and short chapters. It is also likely that the translation is not as effective as it could be in capturing the numerous idioms at work in the text. Finally, it is hard to keep track of the many characters.Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it was a bit of a slog in parts.

  • Kerry
    2019-03-01 23:12

    Former civil servant Wang Xiaofang has in recent years enjoyed credible popularity for his fictitious works on corruption and politics, and his latest novel 'The Civil Servant's Notebook' proves yet another gripping piece of literature about the multifaceted operations within a government office, causing the reader to think critically about what is write and wrong. The story is told from multiple perspectives as the candidates for mayor in Dongzhou City, Liu Yihe and Peng Guoliang, rally for their position in power. During the struggle, the secretary of the provincial disciplinary committee, Qi Xiuying, starts receiving some provocative letters, said to be from Liu Yihe's notebook, which, if proven to be legitimate, could ruin Liu Yihe for good. As Qi Xiuying investigates who has been sending her these letters, the complex relationships between individual characters are gradually revealed, with new complexities added to the story once a web of corruption starts to unfold. What results is a gripping story of deceit, with various sub-stories, ranging from the cruelly poignant story of one woman's undoing, to the downright bizarre dialogue that unfolds between five office desks. Although a bit difficult to keep track of the many characters that are introduced, 'The Civil Servant's Notebook' is a clever and captivating story, at times difficult to put down. Wang Xiaofang invites intrigue as a vivid and creative storyteller, and those looking for an intelligently written piece of Chinese fiction would do well to invest in 'The Civil Servant's Notebook' this winter.

  • Arjen
    2019-02-22 22:56

    Office politics on steroids, CCP-style. The Civil Servant's Notebook is the story of the unmasking of a corrupt official in a big Chinese city. The story is told in short chapters from the perspective of the different actors involved in the mayor's office. It shows how one man's downfall effects all those around him that had counted on rising up together with him, or who schemed for influence and personal gain against him. I'm not sure if some of the literary qualities were lost in translation, but I found the story telling methodology quite crude, or rather unbalanced. Some parts struck me as very insightful while others made me roll my eyes. Overall the novel provides a very interesting peek into fictional officialdom. What I found most shocking was the claim that many temples in China are run as money making schemes, which sounded quite plausible once I started thinking about it.

  • Fadillah
    2019-03-07 02:55

    I really enjoyed reading this. It can be a little bit preachy on regards of life, loyalty, money and etc, but it fits well within context. Having taken administrative science and public admin courses, i understood very well 'the battles` that civil servants may face. Some of them enter the government line filled with ideals to do good and serve the public. However, they will be disappointed to discover that it just not the same. The writer portrayed all the characters in the book brilliantly; from Beibei to old leader, it really impressed me. (Unnecessay Commentary : The urine drinking is so sickening, i don't know why people would practise it. I felt sympathetic to Yang Henda for having to endure it because of his superior ).

  • Teeasintom
    2019-02-23 22:00

    This book illuminated my experience of living in China, in ways both welcome and unwelcome. Although a key character proclaims, "the opposite of darkness is darkness," the author uses equal measures of slapstick and black humor to satirize his former life as a Chinese government employee.I find it shocking that this book isn't banned in China. Although we find a good number of positive role models working in the government, when taken as a whole the book portrays the current system as irreparably damaged and damaging to all who enter into service.

  • Hetal Shah
    2019-03-13 01:06

    This is the very first English translation of a best-selling Chinese novel under this very popular genre in China called "officialdom novels." The author, an ex-Chinese civil servant himself, very humorously depicts the behind-the-scenes politics of a municipal-level office. The narrative shifts with every chapter, and this unique style puts the reader in every character's mind. It can be confusing some times, but nonetheless takes us close and personal.

  • Lydia Zamain
    2019-02-21 00:55

    Finished reading only up to first chapter, after that I found it difficult to continue reading because it's either I got bored or too much information to digest in.... Will try to read it again in the future (way,way in the future)

  • Aarti
    2019-03-03 03:04


  • Laura Rojas Aponte
    2019-03-09 00:02


  • Michael O'Donnell
    2019-03-07 21:00

    A brilliant read. Exposes an image of political philosophy and corruption to blend into the current situation.

  • starduest
    2019-03-12 21:19

    Interesting take on the internal machinations within a directorate - until the same situation is repeated multiple times from the viewpoints of each of the directorate's staff. Add to that irrelevant musings from the viewpoints of stationery and furniture in the directorate and you get a massive and overly long snooze fest.