Nick Holdstock

Boom Town

The Explosion Chronicles


Chatto & Windus 457pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Amid the tumult of China’s modern history, perhaps the most profound change has been the swiftness with which its towns and cities have grown. In 2012 China’s urban population exceeded the number of rural dwellers for the first time. This transformation began in 1978 with the ‘Reform and Opening Up’ policies, which introduced free-market principles and signalled a decisive break with the Mao era. Yan Lianke’s satirical novel tells the story of how the fictional village of Explosion grows into a metropolis during this period, with the aim of using it as a metaphor for China’s development over the last four decades. The Explosion Chronicles is full of absurdities, exaggerations and magical realism, because, as Yan says in an afterword, ‘even the most absurd aspects of China’s history and contemporary reality contain an invisible internal truth’.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Tarantino's latest film is 'a fairy tale about Hollywood, where fantasy is an industrial product and the boulevards… ,
    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,