The Day the Sun Died

by Yan Lianke | Literature & Fiction | This book has not been rated.
ISBN: 1784741612 Global Overview for this book
Registered by sarradee of Mansfield, Texas USA on 8/9/2022
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Journal Entry 1 by sarradee from Mansfield, Texas USA on Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Yan Lianke has secured his place as contemporary China’s most essential and daring novelist, “with his superlative gifts for storytelling and penetrating eye for truth” (New York Times Book Review). His newest novel, The Day the Sun Died—winner of the Dream of the Red Chamber Award, one of the most prestigious honors for Chinese-language novels—is a haunting story of a town caught in a waking nightmare.

In a little village nestled in the Balou mountains, fourteen-year-old Li Niannian and his parents run a funeral parlor. One evening, he notices a strange occurrence. Instead of preparing for bed, more and more neighbors appear in the streets and fields, carrying on with their daily business as if the sun hadn’t already set. Li Niannian watches, mystified. As hundreds of residents are found dreamwalking, they act out the desires they’ve suppressed during waking hours. Before long, the community devolves into chaos, and it’s up to Li Niannian and his parents to save the town before sunrise.

Set over the course of one increasingly bizarre night, The Day the Sun Died is a propulsive, darkly sinister tale from a world-class writer.


The Day the Sun Died isn't a page turner and it's somewhat repetitive. Since I haven't read any of Lianke's other works I'm not sure if that's his style or if it's due to the translation. As an aside I wish I was multilingual and could read books in their original languages but alas I am stuck with English translations which I know don't always capture their brilliance.

This book was recommended to me by one of the bibliologists at mytbr.co who thought I would enjoy it and I did. The story takes place over the course of one night in which all hell breaks loose in the narrator's village. A wave of somnambulism takes over and the majority of people start dreamwalking. During the dreamwalking state, the villagers do all kinds of things that are completely out of character - looting, murder, suicide, sexual assault, and more. This leads to a short lived dystopia which the young narrator, Li Niannian, recounts in what feels like an endless monologue. I enjoyed that the story was told from that single perspective, was the narrator reliable or not? Was he awake or dreamwalking? Did the events Niannian is retelling happen as he is describing them? It isn't always clear. That ambiguity was what kept me reading. I also enjoyed that the author inserted himself as a character in a self deprecating manner.

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