Author: Yu Jihui
Publication date: April 16, 2013
Print edition: 8.5″ x 5.5″ perfect bound trade paperback
Page count: 260
ISBN: 978-988-15540-2-4
Price (paper): US$16.95
E-book formats: ePub, Kindle, PDF
Word count:73,000
eISBN: 978-988-15540-6-2
Price (e-book): US$8.99

In Yu Jihui’s memoir of his life as a university student in China as the nation starved during Mao’s Great Leap Forward, carrots are decadent luxuries and flatulence is the people’s true common language. “Soapy,” the author’s nickname during his college days, has been dubious about the benefits of the socialist revolution sweeping the country ever since his father was exiled to a desolate town in the middle of nowhere for daring to question the wisdom of trying to industrialize overnight. As a young adult, Soapy and his dorm-mates attend classes, chase girls, and attend endless political meetings, always struggling with the need to maintain a cheerfully patriotic outlook despite that pesky urge to faint from hunger from time to time. When Big Zhang, an older boy from the provinces, dares to be a nonconformist, openly mocking the system, the dangerous silliness of the day turns to literal, life-or-death danger. The Gunners of Shenyang is at once hilarious, revealing, informative, thought-provoking, and sometimes college-boy vulgar — a memoir of the horrors of the times from a boy still young enough to enjoy himself and a man now wise enough to see the big picture for what it was.


  • “This dark comedy of Chinese university life in the famished 1960s, based on real events, is like Wild Swans meeting Three Idiots: a book that probably shouldn’t be funny but is. Highly recommended for anyone interested in a ground-level view of those bizarre days.”
    – Nury Vittachi, author of The Curious Diary of Mr Jam
  • “Yu Jihui has survived famine and political oppression to tell the remarkable tale of how obsession with food caused by famine coincided with the political obsessions of Communism in Mao’s China. Bitter, sad, but at times earthily amusing, this tale reveals how China’s Great Famine scarred the generation that endured it. What Wild Swans and Life and Death in Shanghai did for the Cultural Revolution, The Gunners of Shenyang now does for the Great Leap Forward.”
    – Nigel Collett, author of Firelight of a Different Colour: The Life and Times of Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing and The Butcher of Amritsar
  • Bookish.Asia