一、作家简介

  李洱,河南济源人,1966年生。中国先锋文学之后最重要的代表作家之一。1987年毕业于上海华东师范大学中文系,曾在高校任教多年,先为河南省文学院专业作家,并兼任《莽原》杂志副主编,现任职于中国现代文学馆。20世纪80年代末期开始文学创作,与毕飞宇一起被视为中国先锋文学运动之后最重要的代表性作家。主要作品有长篇小说《花腔》《石榴树上结樱桃》,中短篇小说集《午后的诗学》《饶舌的哑巴》《遗忘》《夜游图书馆》等,曾获首届“21世纪鼎钧双年文学奖”、首届“华语传媒图书大奖”、第九届“庄重文学奖”、第三、第四届“大家文学奖”,入转“茅盾文学奖”“华语文学奖”等。作品被译成德语、日语、意大利语、俄语等多种文学。

  2002年1月,由人民文学出版社出版的长篇小说《花腔》在海内外引起极大反响,被批评界普遍认为是2001-2002年度最优秀的长篇小说之一。该书行销近10万册,与莫言的《檀香刑》一起获得首届“21世纪鼎钧双年文学奖”,并入围第6届“茅盾文学奖”。《石榴树上结樱桃》是李洱继《花腔》之后的又一部长篇力作。描写了在权力的诱惑面前人们的自尊、良知受到的考验,用他看似随意、诙谐,实则精细的语言将每一个细节放大,在琐屑的叙述中凸显出当代乡村居民的真实状态,获得首届“华语图书传媒大奖·文学图书奖”,成为德国总理默克尔送给温家宝总理的书,并拍摄了同名电影和电视剧。

 

  二、作品梗概

  《石榴树上结樱桃》这部16万字的小说,描写了一个当下中国农村生活的图景:村级选举。表现了乡土中国在全球化时代所面临的复杂局面,写出了中国在现代化进程中的诸多困难以及困难中的希望。

  官庄的村级选举又要开始了,现任主任繁花特意让在深圳打工的丈夫回来帮忙拉选票,再写一份竞选演讲辞。

  在这个节骨眼上,主抓计划生育的庆书来报告:有人计划外怀孕了。庆书现在积极得很。快选举了嘛,人家已经有要求了,要求新班子成立以后,再给他多压些担子。

  繁花刚开完布置村级选举的会,张县长强调了,基层工作要落到实处。计划外怀孕的只要出现一个,原来的村委主任就不再列入选举名单了。出现两个,班子成员谁也别想成为候选人。

  计划生育是村里的头等大事。一想起雪娥的肚子,那无疑是颗定时炸弹,繁花头皮都发麻了。第二天,繁花就拉着庆书一起去找了雪娥,繁花想通过思想工作这把“扫帚”,扫掉雪娥肚子里的“灰尘”。雪娥先是装糊涂,后来就开始撒泼。

  天快黑的时候,繁花给团支部书记孟小红打了个电话,让她通知干部们饭后开会。人对脾气狗对毛,繁花对孟小红总是有一种说不出的喜欢。自从听了小红的建议,建起了那座石拱桥,繁花对小红更是高看一眼。小红还很谦虚,总是说:“村里的能人多的是,你还是先给他们压担子吧。我一个黄毛丫头,承担不起。”这话说的好啊,主要是位置摆得正,知道自己几斤几两。哪像庆书,剃头挑子一头热,明目张胆地伸手要官,一点儿也不知道韬光养晦。繁花想,等选举完了,计划生育工作干脆交给小红算了。交给了小红,她就省心了。小红不光有这个能力,还有这个魄力。

  雪娥跑了。雪娥的丈夫李铁锁大闹村委,活要见人,死要见尸。吃豹子胆了?放跑了老婆,他还有理了?繁花说:“联系我们村的实际,目前最主要的问题就是雪娥的肚子。都想一想,雪娥会往哪里跑。咱们这些人啊,可都是一根绳上的蚂蚱,想不团结都不行。各唱各的调,各吹各的号,那是行不通的。”

  祥生是村里的文教卫生委员,兼村会计,可最近两年,一直在溴水做生意。开会的时候,繁花心里已经有了一个小算盘,那就是把祥生和庆书都支出去,不能让他们在村里拉帮结派。庆书好办,派他去找雪娥就行了,找不到雪娥唯他是问。祥生就给他一笔经费,让他去把那个老外引来官庄。

  牛乡长对繁花说,工作中有什么困难,尽管提出来,组织上帮助解决。又问,这次选举有什么把握。繁花说:“选上就再干一届,选不上拉倒。”牛乡长又把繁花表扬了一通:“一颗红心两种准备,好!不过,我知道你会连任的,是骡子是马拉出来一遛就知道了。官庄村交给别人,我还不放心呢,一千多张嘴呢!”

  跟老同学李皓碰过杯,繁花说:“又要选举了,这次你可一定要出马啊!羊就先别放了。我想让你把村提留啊,公积金啊,管理费啊,公益金啊,都管起来,统统管起来。班子里我缺一个知音啊!日后村里还要成立民主理财小组,到时候也由你牵头。”李皓透露:“祥生想干村长,正在招兵买马,以图决战。”繁花又问李皓:“小红呢?”李皓的回答让繁花满意:“小红是只金凤凰,你们是龙飞凤舞,龙凤呈祥,就跟戏台上雕的画一样。她是你天生的接班人。”说起庆书,李皓说:“他看的书,都是从我这借的,全是关于林彪的书,他整天研究的就是这个。林彪想当国家主席,庆书想当村委主任。”李皓还无意中透露了有人在经常性地开碰头会。繁花把话题扯到雪娥身上。李皓说:“台风眼儿是最宁静的。灯下黑。”繁花一时反应不过来。

  李皓的话不能全信,也不能不信。她想去查查祥生的账。祥生不是想支书、村长一肩挑吗?不要以为有人选你,就没人能够拦住你了。拦路虎还是有的,那就是账单。麻县长说得好:你吃进了多少,就得屙出来多少。

  其实说白了,祥生只是一棵蒺藜,一棵扎在脚底板上的蒺藜。祥生后来又事先退出了选举,这就等于把蒺藜拔了出来。至于庆书,繁花想,他只是一条泥鳅,翻不起大浪的,只要看着他别再添乱就行了。小红为了村里的利益义无返顾地做了一回英雄,还受了伤。

  繁花突然接到消息,说在废弃的纸厂见到雪娥了。雪娥正在纸厂那里养孩子呢,最初告发雪娥的裴贞在给雪娥送饭。繁花觉得这里面有戏。这唱戏的人当中,庆书是一个,祥生是一个,尚义也算一个。

  裴贞说:“其实你们早就知道我在给雪娥送饭了。小红知道的事你还能不知道?今天就轮到小红送饭了。小红给我说了,在这节骨眼上,不能让那么多人知道雪娥怀孕了。”

  小红?小红也知道?小红还给雪娥送饭?繁花脑子里“嗡”了一下。繁花有些不对劲了。一开始是头重脚轻,没走几步,又颠倒过来了,变成了头轻脚重。

  第二天选举的时候,繁花的烧已经退了。她没去会场,就坐在自家的院子里。牛乡长在主持会议。牛乡长特意表扬了孔繁花同志,说她身上有一种精神,为了人民的利益鞠躬尽瘁的精神,这是官庄村干部的“传家宝”啊,不能丢的。然后是演讲。最先演讲的是孟小红。孟小红平时只要站在大喇叭跟前,都是用普通话说话的,这会儿用的却是本地方言。孟小红重点提到了纸厂的改造。她说,她比任何人都痛恨污染,所以请大家放心,她会下决心配合纸厂搞好治理。

  小红发表过演说以后,繁花正等着听庆书发表演说呢,乐曲声却响了起来。嗬,这就开始投票了?看来庆书也放弃竞选了。那乐曲声突然停了。小红又发表了演说,那自然是就职演说了。现在小红又改成了普通话。那普通话说得好啊,都有点儿像倪萍了,哗啦啦地就把观众的感情给煽起来了。但小红说了些什么,繁花却没有听清楚。

 

  三、推荐语

  李洱一改以前对知识分子题材的关注,在长篇小说《石榴树上结樱桃》中,将注意力投入了中国农村,从遥远的历史回到当下中国的生活现实,描绘了一幅巨变中的中国乡村社会的图景。

  这是一部真正直面农民当代生存状态,描写当下乡村权力关系现状的小说。小说不是靠气势如虹的情节驱动,而是由众多细节一波一波地推演,由栩栩如生的描述展现,在平淡无奇的日常性中,触及生活的本质,也显示了中国的哲学以及中国解决现实问题的独特方式。小说描述了一场别开生面的“乡村战争”,看不到硝烟,却杀机四伏,就如一潭湖水,水面微波不起,水里却是暗涛汹涌。一幕幕村级选举的闹剧活灵活现。村长官衔虽小,可掌握着全村人的政治经济命脉。但作者并无意渲染权力争夺的残酷,更无心以此来招徕猎奇的眼球,他在讲述这场战争的同时,不徐不疾地展示着活色生香的新时代乡村的图景,不时用幽默俏皮的语言调侃一番,对这场“乡村战争”似乎超然物外。事实上,在不动声色的描述中,透露出的是他对乡村现状的喜和忧。

  李洱描绘了在权力的诱惑面前的众生百态,小说里每一个人物都有血有肉,每一个细节都似曾发生,落笔生花、妙语铺成。在中国现代乡土叙事中,这一长篇小说具有一种原创性,它幽默智慧的文字祛除了“传奇”和“苦难”对中国乡土的简化和遮蔽,不只可以用“乡土中国”“现代性”“民主实践”这些大词概括这部小说的主题,而且小说在一定程度上触及了细腻的日常,质疑了现代文学以来的乡土叙事传统,使乡土由想象和言说的对象变为想象和言说的主体,恢复了乡土中国的喧哗、混杂,恢复了它难以界定的、包孕无穷可能性的真实境遇。

  《石榴树上结樱桃》出版后不只在国内广受好评,也成为了国际上深入了解中国文学和中国当下社会生活现状的必读之作。

 

A Cherry on a Pomegranate Tree

By Li Er

  Author Profile

  Li Er, born in 1966, is a native of Jiyuan, Henan Province. He is acclaimed, together with Bi Feiyu, as one of the key representative writers in the wake of Chinese avant-garde literature. After graduating from the Chinese Department of East China Normal University in Shanghai, he taught in university for several years before pursuing a professional career as a writer. He was a professional writer in the Literature Academy of Henan Province, and concurrently associate editor-in-chief of Mang Yuan Weekly. Now he works in the National Museum of Modern Chinese Literature. He started creating literature in the late 1980s, and his major works include the novels: Coloratura, A Cherry on a Pomegranate Tree; and the novella and short story collections: Poetics in the Afternoon, A Chattering Mute, Lost in Memory, A Night Visit of the Library, which have won the 1st Dingyun Biennale Literature Award of the 21st Century, the 1st Chinese Media Book Grand Prix, the 9th Zhuangzhong Literature Award, the 3rd and 4th Master Literature Award, and shortlisted for Mao Dun Literature Award and Chinese Literature Award. His works have been translated into German, Japanese, Italian, Russian and many other languages.

  The novel Coloratura was published by People’s Literature Publishing House in January 2002, drumming up quite a buzz both home and abroad and being critically-viewed as one of the best novels between 2001 and 2002. With a huge circulation of nearly 10 million copies, the book won the 1st Dingjun Biennale Literature Award of the 21st Century, together with Mo Yan’s Sandalwood Death, and was shortlisted for the 6th Mao Dun Literature Award.

  A Cherry on a Pomegranate Tree is another of Li Er’s masterpieces following the massive success of Coloratura. It depicts how people’s self-esteem and moral conscience are tested by the allure of power. In the novel, the author magnifies every bit of minutia in language that comes off a mix between casual and humorous, while maintaining delicate precision and detail. The descriptions of daily trifles reveal all too truthfully the status quo of rural residents in modern times. For this, it deserves to earn the 1st Chinese Book Media Grand Prix / Literature Book Prize, and be presented to Premier Wen Jiabao as a gift by German Chancellor Madame Merkel. The novel has also been adapted for both film and television, bearing the same title.

 

  Synopsis

  The 160,000-word novel A Cherry on a Pomegranate Tree creates a portrait of rural life in contemporary China through scenes of a village-level election. It reflects the complexities rural China faces in the era of globalization, and narrates the expanse of difficulties and hidden hopes China finds itself in while pursuing its modernization drive.

  Election season is starting up again in Guan Village, and Fan Hua, the current village head summons her husband back from his temporary employment in Shenzhen. She hopes he can give her a hand in the campaign, helping solicit more votes and write an election speech.

  At a crucial moment, Qin Shu, the man in charge of family planning issues reports back that a villager has become pregnant outside of their local plan. With elections right around the corner, Qin Shu becomes pretty active now, begging for more responsibility once a new leading group is established.

  Fan Hua is just finishing up her meeting on election arrangement, wherein County Magistrate Zhang made a special note about the importance of grassroots work. Should there be even a single case of unplanned pregnancy, the original village committee director won’t be included on the election ballet. And should there be two cases, the entire original group will be expelled.

  Family planning is the top priority for this village, and Fan Hua’s blood freezes at the mere thought of Xue E’s pregnancy. She views the whole thing as a ticking bomb ready to go off anytime. So, she sets off to see Xue E the very next day, going there with Qin Shu. She tries to talk Xue E into “defusing the bomb”, only to be snubbed and rebuffed.

  Come nightfall, Fan Hua calls the Youth League secretary Meng Xiaohong, having her summon the cadres to a meeting after dinner. Meng is a person Fan Hua can rely on – they always see eye to eye and Fan Hua really appreciated Meng’s efforts in erecting their stone arch bridge. Meng Xiaohong is a pretty humble person, always saying that: “With all these competent people in the village, you should really assign them more tasks. I have much room to improve myself, too.” Now, isn’t that the nicest thing to hear! She simply knows her ability and her position in society. Qin Shu is no match for her – he brazenly asks for power and is forever unable to keep a low profile. Fan Hua figures that she’d simply let Xiaohong take over the business of family planning after the election; she could rest assured that Xiaohong’s got everything under control, as she’s both resourceful and resolute.

  But not much later, the pregnant woman Xue E runs away. Her husband Li Tiesuo comes to the village committee making a big scene. This comes off as quite a bold move, as he should have kept her there at home – how could it possibly be our fault she’s gone?! Fan Hua orders: “In view of the current situation, the priority of our village right now is Xue E’s pregnancy. Let’s put our heads together and find out where she is. We’re all in the same boat – united we stand, divided we fall. It’s better that we sing in chorus rather than on our own.”

  Xiang Sheng is the committee member in charge of cultural, educational and health matters. He is also the village accountant. But he’s been doing business in Xiushui in recent years. At the meeting, Fan Hua concocts a plan – she will dispatch both Xiang Sheng and Qin Shu out of the village to prevent them from forming local posses. Qin Sheng can be properly assigned the task of finding Xue E, failure of which will get him blamed for negligence. For Xiang Sheng, he needs to use the funding he has to bring that foreigner to the village.

  County Head Niu when speaking to Fan Hua said: “If you come across any difficulties in your work, mention them and the Party will do their best to solve them.” He also asked how sure she is of the election, to which she replies: “Serve a second term if elected, otherwise drop it.” The head praised her on taking this stance, saying: “I’m glad to hear you are duly prepared. Having said that, I am all too certain you will be reelected. Actions speak louder than words, and I’d be worried all the time if I put the village in someone else’s hands. After all, over a thousand people live there.”

  After clinking glasses with Li Hao, a former classmate, Fan Hua remarks: “Election time again, but this time you’re on your own. Keep the sheep for later – I want you to stay mindful of the fees paid by farmers, public accumulation funding, management costs… everything. I need a confidant in the team, you know. A democratic finance team is to be set up in the village later, which you will also be heading.” Li Hao makes it known to her that Xiang Sheng, who has coveted the position of village head, is expanding his forces to fight a winning battle. “What about Xiaohong?” asks Fan Hua. She is only too pleased to hear his answer: “Xiaohong is a golden phoenix. You are a perfect match for each other, just like the pictures of a dragon and phoenix carved on the stage wall. She is your born successor.” Speaking of Qin Shu, Li Hao says: “All the books he reads are ones borrowed from me. They are all about Lin Biao. That’s what’s on his mind all day. Lin Biao wants to be the chairman of the country, while he wants to be the committee director of the village.” Li Hao also casually mentions that brief meetings have been going between some guys. On the topic of Xue E, Li implies: “The eye of the typhoon is its most peaceful spot, and shadows lie under the light.” But Fan Hua is puzzled by what he’s said.

  Fan Hua takes Li Hao’s words with a grain of salt, intending to check up on Xiang Sheng’s accounts. If there are any mishaps, they can get in the way of him in his quest for both positions of village secretary and head. This is well put by County Head Ma, saying that “You shit however much you eat, and God is equal to everyone.”

  To put things straight, Xiang Sheng is a thorn in one’s side. But once he pulled out of the election, this thorn was gone for everybody. As for Qin Shu, Fan Hua believes that he is nothing but a fish in the mud, stuck in one spot. Things will be fine as long as he just stays there and doesn’t make more mess. Xiaohong in contrast has always fought for the interests of the village, a hero wounded by her plight.

  Word came that Xue E was found in the abandoned paper plant, raising her kid there. Meanwhile, Pei Zhen, the woman who first reported on her delivers food to her. Fan Hua senses something fishy about this whole situation. Qin Shu, Xiang Sheng and Shang Yi must all have a hand in it.

  Pei Zhen confesses: “You have known from the start that I am delivering food to Xue E. How can you not know what Xiaohong knows? It’s Xiaohong’s turn to deliver food today. She made it clear to me that only a few people should be involved in Xue E’s pregnancy at this critical period.”

  Xiaohong? She knows all about this? And she’s delivering food to Xue E? All this new information catches Fan Hua off-guard, sending her head spinning.

  The following day is election day. Fan Hua has recovered from her fever, but she doesn’t go to the designated place of assembly, sitting in her yard instead. The meeting is chaired by County Head Niu, who makes a point to praise Comrade Kong Fanhua, announcing that she has a commendable spirit, a spirit utterly devoted to serving the people. This spirit is an “heirloom” to the Guan village cadres, which mustn’t be lost at all costs. What follows are speeches, with Meng Xiaohong going first. Usually she’d speak only Mandarin in front of the loudspeakers but this time she spoke in the local dialect. She mentions in particular renovations to the paper plant, saying that she hates pollution more than anyone else, and that she will be decisive when collaborating with the plant.

  Fan Hua is waiting for Qin Shu to give his speech when music starts to sound. Well, is it almost time to vote? And it seems Qin Shu has given up campaigning as well. But the music suddenly stops, and Xiaohong starts her speech again. This is, for sure, her inauguration speech. She speaks in Mandarin, stirring the listeners passionately with the perfect pronunciation of a TV announcer. But whatever she’s saying is almost inaudible to Fan Hua.

 

  Reviews

  In the novel A Cherry on a Pomegranate Tree, Li Er has shifted his main focus from intellectuals to rural China, portraying the huge transformations it’s undergone from the distant past to this very moment.

  This is a novel which addresses contemporary rural life and power relationships, doing so in a head-on way. Instead of building a highly interlinked plot, the novel progresses along many strands of minutiae, not only exploring the nature of life amidst vivid descriptions of mundane reality, but also demonstrating Chinese philosophy and the unique ways China solves day-to-day problems. The novel depicts a spectacular “rural war”, that plays out like a lurking danger in the mist – the realities of election season swirling in a mass of complicated political relations. Though the position doesn’t sound powerful, the village head exacts control over political and economic life in the village overall. However, the author does not intend to play up the cruelty of power struggles, nor drum for novelty. His concern is how to present the colorful rural picture in a new era of graceful ease. In his narration of the war, he teases and ridicules here and there as if he were a total outsider; but in effect, the detached narration betrays his mixed feelings towards the rural present.

  Li Er portrays a myriad of lives each lured by power. Each character is vivid and substantial and every detail familiar and well-acquainted; the story is interesting and intriguing right down to the core. Among modern Chinese narratives written in the vernacular, this novel is an original in and of itself, for its humor and wit remove the stigmas of “legendary” and “miserable” which tend to simplify and shield China’s vernacular state. As a whole, this story can be summed up with the grand themes: “Vernacular China”, “Modernity”, and “Democracy in practice”. Moreover, it touches upon the intricate daily routines, and challenges the tradition of vernacular narration prevalent since the inception of modern literature. In this sense, it has shifted the status of “vernacular” away from being the object of imagination and presentation, instead making it the agent by which these two are achieved. It has restored the confusion and chaos of vernacular China, as well as its indefinable reality of infinite possibilities.

  A Cherry on a Pomegranate Tree was not only well-received by domestic readers following its publication, but has become a must-read book for anyone interested in Chinese literature and current Chinese society.

  作者 | 张颐雯

  译者 | 李欣

  审校 | Damien Liles


[责任编辑:朱贺芳]