Yu Hua has written an inventive and contemplative look at the afterlife. Our main character is a young-middle-aged man who has recently died; initially, he is not quite sure what has happened to him. In the first seven days following his death he visits important places and people from his life story, finding a measure of resolution.
It took me a little while to get into this story – I was confused along with Yang Fei, and it took time for me to get used to Hua’s style and the pacing of the book. In the end, though, I appreciated this window into modern Chinese life — rich business people, underground squatters, small entrepreneurs trying to get ahead in the face of government kickbacks, and hard working civil servants looking for meaning in their daily lives. It made me want to learn much more about China, to piece out what was real and what was Hua’s invention. From The Seventh Day, it seems like a cold and unforgiving society.
The good news is that all are comfortable, beautiful, loved, and part of the community in the afterlife. In the place Yang Fei goes, all have food, all have comfort. It’s the fulfillment of the communist ideal. Additionally, as long as you have not yet been cremated, there is the possibility of reuniting with loved ones.
I highly recommend The Seventh Day to readers who don’t mind a bit of a learning curve and are interested in experiencing a taste of another world.