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To Live -a novel by Yu Hua, translated by Michael Berry

A guide to CWU's 2019 Big Read

To Live -a novel by Yu Hua, translated by Michael Berry

Central Washington University is one of only two organizations in Washington to receive a Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The grant will support a broad range of NEA Big Read activities in Ellensburg in February and March of 2019.  In partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read strives to bring together communities through the sharing of a common book. Ellensburg’s Big Read will focus on Yu Hua’s novel To Live (English translation by Michael Berry).


To Live tells the poignant tale of a man's transformation from the spoiled son of a rich landlord to an honorable and kindhearted peasant as he and his family endure the ravages of war and starvation.  Yu Hua is one of China's most well-known authors and his bestselling novel, To Live, has been named one of China's ten most influential books of the last decade. The novel was made into a critically acclaimed film of the same name with China's best-known actress. It . Yu explains in a postscript that the idea for the novel came after he was deeply moved by an American folk song called "Old Black Joe" about a slave who lived through decades of hardships yet was still kind. "Though unmistakably Chinese," writes author Ha Jin, Yu's novels "are universally resonant."


Additional Information and Resources from the NEA Big Read: including information about the book, the author, historical context, audio materials, and a Teacher's Guide with suggested schedule and lesson plans.