Cai Chongda’s Skin, published last December, is a prose collection of short stories. In the five months since, the stunning book has resonated with readers who were forced to leave home and work far away.
Born in Minnan, Fujian province in 1982, Cai has a deep interest in the stories of his hometown and family.
He started working outside Minnan at a young age and became the editor of Modern Weekly’s news section at the age of 24. Three years later he became the youngest director – reporter at GQ. Writer and racer Han Han praised Cai as a “master of writing.”
The book talks about missing one’s parents, hometown and friends and puts the reader in the role of the main character.
Of more than 14 stories in the book, “Skin,” “House of Mum” and “Disabled” are the most touching.
In “Skin,” a 99-year-old woman who never went to school teaches the reader many truths about life such as “flesh is for use, not for joy.”
In “House of Mum,” a mother wants to build a four-floor house but fears the complex construction would make her family stand out in the neighborhood. All she wants is a place called home where she can stay forever. Her thoughts reflect those of many older people as she works part-time jobs and collects discarded vegetables from the roadside.
The book can be roughly divided into three parts: ailing family members, friends and an analysis of the writer and his world.
Although produced by Han Han, many fans of the writer said the last quarter of the book left them feeling unsatisfied. It’s obvious that the latter part was not finished in the same period of time, and its depth and emotion is comparatively shallow.