Cat Country (Penguin Modern Classics)
When a traveller from China crash-lands on Mars, he finds himself in a country inhabited entirely by Cat People. Befriended by a local cat-man, he becomes acquainted with all aspects of cat-life: he learns to speak Felinese, masters cat-poetry, and appreciates the narcotic effects of the reverie leaf - their food staple. But curiosity turns to despair when he ventures further into the heart of the country and the culture, and realizes that he is witnessing the bleak decline of a civilization.
Cat Country, Lao She's only work of science fiction, is both a dark, dystopian tale of one man's close encounter with the feline kind and a scathing indictment of a country gone awry.
Fascinating . . . a work fuelled by specifically Chinese concerns (the leaves function in Martian history much as opium did in China's) and shaped by China's literary past (the Chinese canon includes tales of travelers to distant lands encountering curious customs and marvelous sights), yet written by a worldly author fond of Conrad and Swift . . . makes an ideal companion piece to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four . . . in Cat Country, the greatest fear is of a culture and people being annihilated as a government too divided and weak to stand up for itself proves unable to protect a land from brutal invaders (Jeffrey Wasserstrom The Times Literary Supplement)A biting satire (Jasper Becker)
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