A Thousand Years of Good Prayers/China

As I’ve not read any books yet by the Nobel price winner for literature 2012, Mo Yan, I would like to recommend another important Chinese writer and one of her touching and  books. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers is  a short story by Yiyun Li within her prize-winning collection of short stories with the same name. It’s about the relationship between father and daughter. The daughter had emigrated, in fact, to the United States many years ago where she got married and lately divorced. Her father, now a widower,comes from China with the intention to help his daughter to overcome her difficult time.  She does, however, quite soon ask her father how long he has in mind to stay. Later on she also tells him that she has not been abandoned by her husband but thatshe has been the abandoner  because she was and still is in love with a man from Romania (in the film he is turned into a Russian.) She also tells him that she can’t speak about her feelings in Chinese because at home they have never spoken about them and that she and also her mother have always known that he didn’t work as a rock scientist at the institute for all those years, as he has always pretended, but that they had made him do the most humble jobs because there had been a lady at the institute with whom he could speak about their own lives and that hadn’t been tolerated by the system at that time . Here is the synopsis of the film plot and the video trailer:


I’ve also prepared a worksheet with some multiple choice questions which you can try to answer. Here is the link:Prayers

As you may aIso be interested in other Chinese books I’ve also written an article and made an audio about the following novel:


These are the answers to the worksheet:1=2/2=3/3=2/4=2/5=2/6=2/7=3

I hope you like  this culture crossing story!

Last but not least, I’ve also read “The Vagrants” be YIYUN LI but needs a lot of guts to read because it is so sad!

Another of my posts about China:https://rivella49.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/china/


In the meantime I have read many other books about China and its highly interesting history. One, which I liked a lot is “The Seventh Day” by Yu Hua. This Chinese writer, who lives in China and not abroad, was a guest at our last year’s literature and translations Festival in Bellinzona, where he presented his books in Chinese. The translation to English and then into Italian was, however, quite an untertaking!!

Anyway, this is a mordent satire about modern China and its problems, such as the enormously expanding market economy, the air pollution, consumerism, the increasing gap between rich and poor, people,corruption and above all the conditions which regulate the people’s afterlife, requiring them unmourned to wander the netherworld. There is  the big love between father and son, but it is also without a happy end!


In der Zwischenzeit habe ich mehrere Bücher über China und dessen hochinteressanten Geschichte gelesen. Eines, welches mir sehr gefallen hat heisst auf Deutsch „Die sieben letzten Tage“ von Yu Hua. Dieser chinesische und international bekannte Schriftsteller lebt in China und war zum Litteratur und Übersetzungsfestival 2017 nach Bellinzona eingeladen, wo er seine Bücher vorgestellt hat. Die Übersetzung ins Englische und dann ins Italienische war allerdings nicht leicht!

Es scheint eine Komödie zu sein, aber in Tat und Wahrheit handelt es sich um eine bissige Satire über das moderne China und seine Probleme, wie Wirtschaft, die sich explosionshaft entwickelt. Ein anderes Thema ist die schlimme Luftverschmutzung, das Konsumverhalten, die sich dauernd grösser werdende Schere zwischen Arm und reich sowie Korruption und vor allem die Bedingungen, die das Nachleben der Menschen betreffen und das Trauern um die Gestorbenen, gemäss der chinesischen Tradition, unmöglich machen.

Es geht auch um eine berührende Liebe zwischen Vater und Sohn, aber auch hier gibt es kein Happy End!


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