Dr. Bethune's Children
By Yiwei Xue
Translated by Darryl Sterk
Xue Yiwei’s life has been marked by that of the legendary Montreal surgeon Norman Bethune, who died in China in the cause of Communism. Like other Chinese of his generation – the generation that has turned China into the world power it is today – Xue Yiwei was inspired ... Read more
Xue Yiwei’s life has been marked by that of the legendary Montreal surgeon Norman Bethune, who died in China in the cause of Communism. Like other Chinese of his generation – the generation that has turned China into the world power it is today – Xue Yiwei was inspired by Dr. Bethune’s example during the Cultural Revolution. But unlike his peers, he went to the lengths of moving to Montreal, where he has lived for sixteen years as a writer acclaimed in China and – until now – unknown in Canada. This subversive novel is the story that only he could write. Dr. Bethune’s Children, which is banned in China (it is available only in a Chinese language version published in Taiwan), focuses on individual lives marked by some of the traumatic events of recent decades that have been veiled by official secrecy. In showing us the effects of the distress and repression that have marked his whole generation, Xue Yiwei unveils the human heart.
Xue Yiwei is an award-winning Chinese writer born in Chenzhou and raised in Changsha, in Hunan province. He has a B.Sc. in Computer Science from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, an M.A. in English Literature from Université de Montréal, and a Ph. D. in Linguistics from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. He has taught Chinese literature at Shenzhen University and is the author of sixteen books, including four novels—Desertion (1989, reissued 2012), Dr. Bethune’s Children (2011), Farewells from a Shadow (2013), and Empty Nest (2014)—and five collections of stories. He lives in Montreal.
Darryl Sterk has been translating Mandarin-language fiction from Taiwan and occasionally from China for a dozen years, most notably Wu Ming-Yi's two novels The Man With the Compound Eyes (Harvill Secker, 2013) and The Stolen Bicycle (Text, 2017), which was longlisted for the Booker International. For Linda Leith Publishing, he has translated Xue Yiwei's Shenzheners (2016) and Dr. Bethune's Children (2017) and Home Sickness (LLP, 2020) by Chih Ying Lay. Originally from Edmonton, Darryl Sterk lives in Hong Kong.