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'Bean Paste' saga goes right to China's guts

Novelist Yan Ge's bawdy debut in English shows Sichuan in the raw

Chinese novelist Yan Ge is now transitioning to writing in English. (Photo by Lisa Whalen)

NORWICH, U.K. -- In the midst of China's communist revolution Mao Zedong declared, "An army without culture is a dull-witted army, and a dull-witted army cannot defeat the enemy."

In "The Chilli Bean Paste Clan," her first novel translated into English, Chinese author Yan Ge depicts a decidedly capitalist China that Mao might not recognize, peopled not by masses of model workers but by striving, grasping men who are not above cheating on their wives and employers or cursing family pressures and personal predicaments in language as saucy as it is irreverent.

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