Read Cries in the Drizzle by Yu Hua Allan H. Barr Online


Yu Hua’s beautiful, heartbreaking novel Cries in the Drizzle follows a young Chinese boy throughout his childhood and adolescence during the reign of Chairman Mao. The middle son of three, Sun Guanglin is constantly neglected ignored by his parents and his younger and older brother. Sent away at age six to live with another family, he returns to his parents’ house six yearYu Hua’s beautiful, heartbreaking novel Cries in the Drizzle follows a young Chinese boy throughout his childhood and adolescence during the reign of Chairman Mao. The middle son of three, Sun Guanglin is constantly neglected ignored by his parents and his younger and older brother. Sent away at age six to live with another family, he returns to his parents’ house six years later on the same night that their home burns to the ground, making him even more a black sheep. Yet Sun Guanglin’s status as an outcast, both at home and in his village, places him in a unique position to observe the changing nature of Chinese society, as social dynamics — and his very own family — are changed forever under Communist rule. With its moving, thoughtful prose, Cries in the Drizzle is a stunning addition to the wide-ranging work of one of China’s most distinguished contemporary writers....

Title : Cries in the Drizzle
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780307279996
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Cries in the Drizzle Reviews

  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    2019-05-12 20:18

    It's rare that I don't finish a book - even when I'm not enjoying a book, I still aim to finish it, I just don't like to leave something unfinished in any facet of my life - but such is the case with Cries in the Drizzle. I picked it to read for the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge in October for a few reasons, but none of them are particularly important: I simply wanted to read it for the same reason I want to read anything - to learn more, to experience someone else's life, to open up my own for a new voice, a different perspective, and the hope to be inspired or touched in some way.Sadly, Yu Hua's fictionalised autobiography became a real slog to read, and at 186 pages (out of 304), I decided to stop trying to read it. One thing was blazingly clear: it wasn't going to improve in the last hundred pages, not for me. Not finishing a book always leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth, but October was a month of reading struggle in general and a book like this was proving to be a real block to recapturing my stride and making progress on other titles. But because this was for a challenge, I wanted to share my thoughts on what I did read, and why it didn't work for me.Essentially it boils down to the writing as the primary problem; secondly, the story itself. The first is the most subjective, and plenty of readers will love the writing style and connect with it in ways that were simply impossible for me. Set in rural China in the 1960s, Cries in the Drizzle tells the story of an impoverished family through the eyes of its narrator, Sun Guanglin. Guanglin is the middle child of three boys, Sun Guangping and Sun Guangming. His father, Sun Kwangstai, is a horrible man, with a mean temper, a drinking habit and a seemingly complete inability to love others or care for anyone but himself. His mother is a bit of a nonentity, and his grandfather, Sun Youyuan, who lives with them, is self-abasing towards Sun Kwangstai, a bit of a coward and a doddery old man who sits in the corner daydreaming about his dead wife, who was once the daughter of a rich man.Sun Guanglin was sold to a military officer when he was six, but returns to his home village of Southgate when he's twelve; compared to his real family and life in Southgate, life with Wang Liqiang and his wife was wonderful. It isn't until Part 4 that the narrator speaks with any depth about this time in his life, and I didn't read that far. Divided into sections that deal with chunks or themes in his childhood and adolescence, Sun Guanglin tells stories about his brothers, his parents, the widow his father had a lengthy affair with, his friendships with Su Yu and Su Hang at school, troubles with girls and going through puberty, and the history of his grandfather and great-grandfather, who were stone masons and bridge builders before war, famine and poverty struck.I tend to be a fairly organised person, and Sun Guanglin's story has no real structure to it, making it hard for me to follow. Even in the midst of a story, he seemed to change direction completely from one paragraph to the next, and gave no indication that this was a relevant tangent to the story he's telling and it'll all come together just wait. It reminded me of my struggle reading John Elder Robison's memoir, Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger's. The scattered, unfocused style is much the same, and Hua's storytelling style tends to come across as a bit flimsy, weakly put together, and poorly fleshed out. It is no doubt his style, and some readers will enjoy it, but it's not for me. My brain and Hua's brain just aren't compatible: we think differently, in terms of rhythm and rhyme, like we're two different musical instruments each playing a different song.There is humour here, and plenty of farce - especially in the stories Guanglin tells of his ancestors; it's comical but not funny. The one thing that does come across strongly is the atmosphere of utter poverty, and the disconnect between the state and the working classes. One of the saddest stories is about the little boy called Lulu, whose mother is arrested and sent to a labour camp for prostitution. Lulu is left behind to fend for himself. A boy of six! There is no other family, no one to care for him or feed him, and while his mother wasn't in the slightest bit nurturing or loving, she at least provided a home for him. I loved her response to the interrogation at the Public Security Bureau: "The clothes you wear, they're issued by the state, and your paychecks too. So long as you're taking care of state business, you're doing your jobs all right. But my vagina belongs to me - it's not government issue. Who I sleep with is my affair, and I can look after my own vagina perfectly well, thank you very much." [pp.134-5] There are quite a few mini-stories or scenes that touch of the people's alienation from their own bodies, and complete lack of understanding or education around their bodies, their sexuality, anything practical or emotional and psychological of that nature. It's quite sad, and combined with the images of poverty and the sense of these people as being quite disposable and without real value, Cries in the Drizzle paints a pretty bleak picture of communist China. It does maintain its focus on the people, not the politics; you simply glean truisms from the stories of people's lives. I just wish those stories had been easier to follow; the narration is disjointed, and Sun Guanglin's habit of omniscience robs the stories he tells of authenticity: How does he know what happened, what someone was thinking, what Su Yu was feeling as he lay dying? He wasn't there. It's all conjecture, speculation, and this undermines the credibility of his story - especially as it reads like a memoir.With no plot, there is little direction to this coming-of-age story. There's no forward momentum or impetus. When you have a plotless novel, it's down to the characters to carry the story. In some ways, this being a story about people, the characters are well fleshed out. And yet they always remain caricatures of themselves. There's no real depth or understanding to them. Sun Guanglin's narration remains consistent in this regard: how he talks about people is the same as how he talks about events - from a distance, both all-knowing and superficial. It's perplexing, and frustrating. Annoying, even. Even when people die, when children die - something that, these days, never fails to bring on the waterworks - I was left largely untouched. Cries in the Drizzle failed to connect with me emotionally, and without that connection - on top of a lack of plot and basic structure - I had no reason to keep reading. Time to move on.

  • Jinn
    2019-05-22 20:12


  • Andy Deemer
    2019-05-18 19:56

    I have to admit, I didn't actually finish the book. To Live, Chronicle of a Blood Merchant, Brothers: all of these were majestic. Hilarious, upsetting, fun, brilliant, etc etc. But after 200 or so pages of Cries in the Drizzle, I realized I couldn't continue. It's a similar story -- coming of age during China's periods of trial -- but this book had become my period of trial.There's no overarching story in this book, and no narrative continuity. There are anecdotes told -- my god so many anecdotes -- but they're told in such a jumbled fashion. One single story, perhaps a breaking of a bowl, might take 100 pages to play out. He'll return to and develop and expand it, over and over and over and over. It's a broken bowl and a child accused -- with no grand significance, dammit! But we'll keep coming back to it (or any other anecdote told.) And, just like that hideous episode of Lost, we'll jump back and forward in time... so we'll learn new elements of each anecdote, and be confused an uninterested each and every time.A character might take 20 pages to slowly pass away. When they're gone, we cheer -- now, the story can move on! -- only to discover that character returns in the very next sentence, as we move back to the same broken bowl anecdote yet again. (Clearly that one really irritated me. But the dead brother, the walk home from the boat trip, the hammering of the coffin -- all of these can stand in as equally annoying.) It's jarring, and irritating, and difficult to relax in. Unlike David Foster Wallace -- both these books take minor characters or asides and dwell on them for pages -- this doesn't feel great or inspired.It feels unedited.Every time he expresses an emotion, or describes a situation, in three, four, five different ways, using five different analogies, in five consecutive sentences, I also felt a hint that the editor of this book was on holiday. There are wonderful moments. There are hints that this was the same author as Brothers and To Live and Blood Merchant. But those moments are so weighed down by the rest of the book, I couldn't do it. I had to quit.

  • Stephen Douglas Rowland
    2019-05-10 02:20

    Probably Yu Hua's least reader-friendly novel in English translation, this disjointed work is by turns disturbing, hilarious, gruesome, and moving. I think it's his best, after Chronicle of a Blood Merchant.

  • Krocht Ehlundovič
    2019-04-23 23:20

    This book has been a hard-core reading... Author knew how to create the true atmosphere of China in its 50s. While I was reading it, I could vividly feel (see, hear, smell, touch) the village where the main character lives. I was having an impression of the grey world, my soul was bathing in strange depression and void however I could not put the book aside. It is a cold and lonely story. The author is a master of souls, he perfectly understands inner worlds - he is not another Dostoyevsky, but he surely is a skilful sensitive artist. This book is exactly what I have been looking for: to look inside another cultures and mindsets. What is interesting is that people suffer, feel and have the same desires; and what is different is their environment - and it seems, that it does not matter how much you have (power or material possessions - parallel to Peterson´s book I had read) but how you can translate/transform your feelings into a reasonable and fulfilled life. I even have difficulties to describe this master piece! And do not expect anything easy and smooth, this is the novel - big, complex and massive.

  • Gyatsang Sey
    2019-05-10 02:55

    A novel without a central plot, but still able to keep my attention from wavering. It is a tribute to Yu Hua’s smooth story-telling that keeps one captivated with a book-length of random anecdotes. Mesmerizing!

  • Tze-Wen
    2019-04-25 20:21

    The story starts and ends with an inferno. Sometime in the mid-sixties, just before the Cultural Revolution, a little boy is on his way home to a house that is no longer there. It is all part of Sun Guanglin's tale, an unwanted middle son who tries to recollect all of his childhood memories in no particular order. He claims that he is not emotionally attached to Southgate, but his memories are evidently permeated with nostalgia. The order of the memories also give him away: if sentiment had been lacking, he'd not remember them so haphazardly. Unfortunately, this seemingly random arrangement of his past makes for pretty poor reading. At the beginning of the book, he casually refers to the five years with his foster parent, but the reader is not introduced to this character until much later in the story. The two boys next door appear to have played no specific part in Sun Guanglin's childhood, and their relevance is only revealed when they reappear again in his new life in the Wang household. I don't think I have read any other books that have emphasized the seediness of backward village life in such a blunt manner. Calmly, the protagonist recounts the events that lead up to his conception. In short: father Sun Kwangtsai was ready to go at all times, and even a glimpse of his wife while working in the fields would set him off. The details are vulgar and add to the negative image that is painted of him throughout the book. The man not only sleeps around, but he also humiliates his aging father whenever he can. Sun Guanglin describes the daily abuse that is flung at the members of their household in an excruciating fashion. So much for filial piety. Even as a grown-up, our narrator fails at expressing remorse for treating grandfather Sun so badly. A child can be forgiven for his bad behaviour, especially when no appropriate example is set, but I did not get the impression that he cared much about what happened to the old man. Nor the eventual demise of his father, nor the premature passing of his younger brother. Sun Guanglin is, however, extremely preoccupied with getting through puberty. In too many pages, the author describes the hormonal anguish the young man suffers. It may be difficult to believe, but a close friendship is almost lost because the self-centered boy cannot bring himself to socialise again after discovering... masturbation.I tried to read between the lines and discover criticism on Chinese society or perhaps lessons to be learnt from the decade in which the Cultural Revolution ravaged the country. But all this was either absent, or I was too distracted by all the terrible things people said and did to each other. Generally speaking, people in the countryside remained poor and uneducated throughout the sixties and seventies, not much different from the lives they led in imperial or Republican times. And if their villages were anything like Sun Guanglin's fictional Southgate, I pity their brief and loveless lives, full of scheming, violence and injustice.

  • Clara Suárez
    2019-05-16 20:55

    Me costó, pese a suscitarme un interés notable, adentrarme en esta lectura. Digamos que seguía demasiado afectada por Grandes pechos... y las semejanzas entre ambas lecturas son más que notables. Al menos al principio.Yu Hua nos sitúa en la China rural y nos guía, siempre de la mano de Sun Guanglin, a lo largo y ancho de su vida y la de su familia y amigos en Nanmen y Sundong. Un panorama que se desarrolla principalmente a finales de los 60, principios de los 70, pero que no se estanca ahí, si no que va mordisqueando episodios varios desde principios del siglo XX. La brutalidad de una sociedad rural y terriblemente patriarcal azota en cada página de esta novela, que bien podría pasar por una tragicomedia. Es interesante, es conmovedora y es divertida, pero le ha faltado algo, quizás mayor implicación en la trama, más profundidad, ya que la división en pequeños capítulos dispares en el tiempo y el espacio, aunque amena por momentos, también invita a la desconexión.

  • Stephen Durrant
    2019-05-17 01:16

    Having read Yu Hua’s “To Live” several years ago, I came to “Cries in the Drizzle” with high expectations. I was disappointed and even found it difficult to finish. This is a coming of age story and keeps the political world in the background, which I found a pleasant contrast to so much modern Chinese literature. The world in which Sun Guanglin, the protagonist of this novel, grows up is harsh. He is beset by cruelty and betrayal—an abusive father, a tyrannical teacher, a cowardly grandfather, disloyal friends. Those who are kind or sympathetic seem almost always to meet an unhappy end. Yes, consistently bleak. Given Chinese history, I suppose one must expect that, but somehow this story went in so many directions both in time and space that I found it difficult to track. While several of the episodes are powerful and unforgettable, the overall work is less than the sum of its parts. Yu Hua writes well, but in this case I found my mind wandering, as I read, to the books I planned to read next. Not a good sign.

  • Tim
    2019-05-18 23:59

    Rather than flowing chronologically this book is an interconnecting web of memories of a childhood. Even so I found it easy to read and follow. It is a sad book with some dark humour. Enjoyable though and hard to put down.

  • Russell R Miller
    2019-04-25 22:12

    story of childhood Hey loved all his other books but found this one un-engaging. Some of the stories of growing up are quite cute, some funny, and some sad; overall however it is hard to plow through the book.

  • Molly
    2019-05-15 21:54

    Stories of a cold, mean childhood in the Chinese countryside. Well written, much is left unsaid and I enjoyed reflecting on the alien relationships and motives of the characters.

  • Catharina
    2019-05-06 02:58

    sad book

  • Ying
    2019-05-25 02:11

    create an moving atmosphere

  • Da Jin
    2019-05-07 22:53

    This is my favourate yu hua's work, he shows us realism and surrealism at the same time.

  • G
    2019-04-24 20:15

    Sad but beautifully written, with a bitter nostalgia.

  • Fan
    2019-05-01 01:11

    I read it at college. I remember that it affected me profoundly. There's not much a story there, but the language is beautiful and the emotion runs deep.

  • Brilliant
    2019-05-21 04:11


  • Sally
    2019-04-24 00:14

    Slow, though lovely intimate portrait of how hard it can be to live in a Chinese village.

  • Caitlin Schultz
    2019-05-10 02:06

    This was a wonderful book, but I read "China in Ten Words" first, and much of it is similar.