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Golden Age

«Some of the funniest writing on sex I have encountered ... Through a colourful cast of characters the writer satirises a society in which the Cultural Revolution continued to shape behaviour for decades»

Ankita Chakraborty, Observer
Sendes innen 7 virkedager


Penguin Classics
20 x 13 cm


«Some of the funniest writing on sex I have encountered ... Through a colourful cast of characters the writer satirises a society in which the Cultural Revolution continued to shape behaviour for decades»

Ankita Chakraborty, Observer

«An edgy, insider's take on China ... a satire of the Cultural Revolution by the most popular modern author in China»

David Mills, The Sunday Times

«Both subversive and hilarious ... so enjoyable»

Chris Allnutt, Financial Times

«Is this Mao-era China's most hilarious black comedy? Wang Xiaobo's Golden Age sees its protagonist, like its author, sent for 're-education' - and a very funny, farcical sexual awakening... branded "the Chinese Kafka"... full of hilarity. There are wonderful observations about sex under public scrutiny ... I cannot extol Wang's penetrating prose enough»

Xiaolu Guo, The Telegraph

«Wang Xiaobo's 1990s knockabout satire is a revelation. His tale of China's Cultural Revolution is no sombre lesson, but an antic and anarchic extravaganza»

John Self, Independent

«An ironist, in the vein of Kurt Vonnegut, with a piercing eye for the intrusion of politics into private life… Long after his death, of a heart attack, at the age of forty-four, Wang’s views still circulate among fans like a secret handshake»

Evan Osnos, New Yorker

«Golden Age (a title oozing irony) is an ultra-modern blast of thrillingly wrong-footing licentiousness. Determined to smash taboos, it revels in the anti-authoritarian power of lust»

Anthony Cummins, Daily Mail

«One of China's modern masterpieces ... a political satire fuelled by sex, love and humour»

Alex Clark, BBC Open Book

«One of the great writers to have emerged in post-Mao China. Wang Xiaobo excels in writing about love and sex - and coming of age - in an arid and bizarre world. With beautiful simplicity, he fills the reader with aching poignancy, and yet makes them want to laugh out loud»

Jung Chang


Wang Xiaobo is a truly unique writer, and there are very few writers like him. He had a remarkable ability to blend illusion with reality, distorting our understanding and infusing our feelings into the narrative of his language. This blending is so absurd, so real and palpable. Perhaps only a select few are capable of expressing their life experiences, imagination, and sexuality in relation to a vast and omnipresent political environment as Wang Xiaobo did.

What made Wang Xiaobo's writing so successful was his ability to use the most commonplace language to express the most heartfelt emotions in his inner world, and the most unspeakable real. When we encounter this kind of real while reading, we are left speechless; when "real" reaches a certain level, it all feels so unfamiliar and strange to us. It is precisely when this feeling of unfamiliarity emerges that the power of real reveals itself in Wang Xiaobo's words


Ai Weiwei

«Every page is a surprise. The novel is outrageous, startling, and very, very funny»

Roddy Doyle

«Like a Chinese Kurt Vonnegut. By turns lyrical and satirical, Wang Xiaobo's sexual comedies set during the Chinese Cultural Revolution are as improbable as that genre sounds. His long overdue publication in English comes as a gift. Golden Age is funny and brave and profound»

Chris Kraus

«An iconic writer with a cult status who influenced an entire generation of Chinese writers, Wang Xiaobo culls a different personal memory from the days of the Cultural Revolution. A secret sexual affair between two youths sent to the countryside for reeducation opens a window unto love and punishment, ideology and privacy, reason and absurdity. The wistful triumph in Golden Age bespeaks a time when sanity was survival at its minimum. For all its dark humor, irony, and matter-of-fact fornication, the novel carries tremendous heart in what it encourages the individual to feel. A must-read novel»


«Until reading Wang Xiaobo's Golden Age, I had not seen a work that captures the ironies and contradictions Wang Er endures living in a communist country in a decidedly capitalist world. Just my saying this sounds academic, but the novel is not academic. It's hilarious, loose, surprising and so smart. I am reminded of Heller's Catch 22, but whereas circularity was the enemy for Yossarian, it might well be Wang Er's ally»

Percival Everett

«Startlingly funny, darkly profound, Golden Age is one of the most memorable novels published in Chinese language in the past hundred years, and it will still be read a hundred years from now»

Yiyun Li

«A comic take on oppressive regimes . . . wonderful euphemisms, wide-ranging irreverence, abetted by a voice that is variously smart, quirky, or sarcastic . . . entertaining . . . An unusual writer worth discovering for his humor and flair»

Kirkus Reviews

«A novel of lust and loss during China's Cultural Revolution . . . The idea of how to stand up to power underlies Golden Age»

Ian Johnson, New York Times

«Startling and direct . . . Golden Age has long been admired by Chinese readers for its clever take on sexual rebellion, and its innovative voice and narrative style. Using the language of the state to highlight the absurdity of their laws, Xiaobo made a satire that is both amusing and effective. This fable remains relevant decades later and thousands of miles away»

Rhea Ramakrishnan, Ploughshares

«Wang Xiaobo was arguably the most influential intellectual of the post-Tiananmen generation, a nonchalant provocateur as well as an unconventional, anti-authoritarian thinker whose writing has stood the test of time»

Sebastian Veg, author of MINJIAN

«Golden Age, long admired in many circles, may prove a revelation to readers outside China. Wang Xiaobo steeped himself in the literatures of East and West, and the blending of influences - including Proust and Twain - makes for a searingly funny and fearless narration full of brilliant head-long riffs on sex, time, history, and the terrifying absurdities of the Cultural Revolution. Bawdy, earthy, cerebral, outrageous, bleakly hilarious and off-handedly brave, this novel is like nothing else»

Sam Lipsyte, author of THE ASK and THE SUBJECT STEVE

«Chinese author Wang Xiaobo died aged just 44 in 1997, but his masterpiece, Golden Age (Penguin, April), has now been translated into English in full for the first time by Yan Yan. It's a scabrous, bawdy novel set in the years of the Cultural Revolution. It's also very moving.»

Alex Preston, Guardian Fiction to Look Out for in 2023

«No solemn, reverent account, this is a book of many erections ... playful, though undercut with cynicism»

Nick Holdstock, TLS

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