My Life as Emperor
By Su Tong
(Hyperion, Paperback, 9781401374044, 304pp.)
Publication Date: February 1, 2006
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From the celebrated author of Raise the Red Lantern comes a spellbinding novel about life in the imperial court of a child emperor. In this chilling yet enormously entertaining tale by acclaimed Chinese writer Su Tong, a pampered and naïve 14-year-old prince finds himself, suddenly and unexpectedly, named Emperor and placed in the position of lord and ruler over an entire nation. A boy of few talents and limited interests, he soon grows drunk on his own power and learns to wield an iron fist in dealing with subjects inside and outside the palace. Narrated in retrospect by the ex-Emperor, this is a mesmerizing story of cruelty and decadence, of concubines and eunuchs, of lethal imperial rivalries and royal court intrigue. Su Tong is one of the most celebrated Chinese writers today. The New York Times calls him "an imaginative and skillful storyteller." The publication of this book--his first in almost ten years--was an international literary event. His innovative, deftly constructed novels remain at the forefront of a growing body of work by a coterie of writers who have exposed new facts about China's past and posed vital questions regarding the country's future.
Su Tong was born in Suzhou, China, in 1963 and graduated from Beijing Normal University with a degree in Chinese literature. He is the author of the novel Rice and the three-novella collection Raise the Red Lantern, the title story of which was made into an Oscar-nominated film by Zhang Yimou. Su Tong now lives in Nanjing, China. Howard Goldblatt, an award-winning translator of Chinese authors, including Mo Yan and Liu Heng, is a professor at the University of Notre Dame.