Jerusalem is a story about several young people Chu Pingyang, Yang Jie, Yi Chang’an and Qin Fuxiao who left their hometown in Huajie Street for Beijing, and ultimately come back for a reunion. Their joy and sorrow, as well as struggle are depicted to a nicety.
In the novel, the past events of their hometown and the current events in Beijing occur concurrently. The life stories of several young people represent the spirits and ethos of a whole generation born in the 1970s. Meanwhile, the story also presents the vicissitudes of many Huajie Street residents’ lives in the past decades, dating even back to the beginning of the founding of the PRC and the “Cultural Revolution.” The novel is also about history of Huajie Street and the embodiment of the southern village’s transition from a traditional era to contemporary days.
Chu Pingyang, the hero of the novel, has a PhD degree from Peking University. He is a good observer and thinker. His concern for ordinary people and philosophical thinking lends depth to the story. After every chapter of the novel, each of Chu’s essays for the column “Our Generation” is annexed as a contrast to the main body, giving the feeling of intertextuality.
The novel is highly symbolic with a combination of Jerusalem’s religious overtones and the hero’s depressed mood, pointing to the exploration of life’s ultimate meaning.
徐则臣，1978 年出生于江苏东海，北京大学中文系硕士毕业，曾于 2009 年赴美国克瑞顿大学 (Creighton University) 做驻校作家，2010 年参加美国爱荷华大学国际写作计划（IWP），现为《人民文学》杂志社编辑。他的作品被认为“标示出了一个人在青年时代达到的灵魂眼界”。短篇小说《如果大雪封门》荣获第六届鲁迅文学奖。2014 年凭借《耶路撒冷》获得老舍文学奖，并且在 2015 年提名第九届茅盾文学奖。另外，他著有长篇小说《午夜之门》《夜火车》，中短篇小说集《鸭子是怎样飞上天的》等，部分作品已被翻译成德、英、日、韩、意、蒙、荷、俄、西等多种语言。
Xu Zechen, born in 1978 in Donghai, Jiangsu, obtained a master’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature at Peking University, and is now an editor at People’s Literature magazine. In 2009 he went to Creighton University as an author-in-resident, and in 2010 he took part in the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP).
His works have been deemed as “managing to identify exceptional vision and outlook of a young writer”. His short story If a Snowstorm Seals the Door was awarded the 6th Lu Xun Literature Prize. In 2014 he was awarded Lao She Literature Prize for his outstanding work Jerusalem and in 2015 he was nominated for the 9th Mao Dun Literature Prize. He has published the novels Midnight’s Door and Night Train, and a collection of short stories and novellas entitled How Geese Fly up to Heaven. Some of his works have been translated into German, English, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Mongolian, Dutch, Russian and Spanish.
Chu Pingyang returns from Beijing to his hometown Huaihai by train in the hope of being able to raise enough money to study in Jerusalem. His family decides to sell the Dahetang Pharmacy in Huajie Street to finance him, as his father Dr. Chu has already moved to city to practice medicine. On his way home, an emergency stop occurs when Chu’s train is just half an hour from its destination. The train was stopped by Tongqian a fool, four years Chu’s senior, from Huajie Street. Tongqian became a fool after he had been kicked in the head by a pig as a young boy. Tongqian stopped the train and uttered that he wanted to “go to the world.” Hit by that utterance, Chu actually draws some inspiration from it as he is writing a column named “Our Generation” for a newspaper.
In Go to the World, Chu writes: A fool wants to go to the world, even though he doesn’t know what on earth the world is. Chu finds the village almost empty because most young people in Huajie Street have gone to city for work. Chu loves the name Jerusalem so dearly and is glad to learn that his parents support his decision to study in that far-flung city in spite of their worries.
After obtaining his master’s degree, Chu first works at a university in his hometown. He soon quits the exacting job and goes on pursuing a PhD degree at Peking University. Chu returns home and recalls his ex-girlfriend Shu Xiu, who has beautiful eyes and now is a mother to a one-year-old boy. Shu Xiu has read all the works Chu publishes and comes to see him with her son. They make love, but find themselves unable to get back to where they were. As Chu writes in one of his works, love is indeed a problem. Half of it is ocean, and the other half is flame.
Massive relocation is underway, only to build a memorial hall to Cui Baobao, a famous imaginary courtesan. But a resident Yi Peiqing refuses to move away. Chu participates in an event held by the “Reminiscent Club” and writes an essay entitled Feel Reminiscent so Early.
Qin Fuxiao, an elevator operator living in a basement in Beijing, adopts an orphan with the help of Chu and names the kid Tiansong. Qin Fuxiao’s father Jing Kuazi, a man living with his wife’s family, has longed for male offspring. First, Jing Kuazi’s wife gave birth to Qin Fuxiao. Later, their son named Jing Tianci was born. Unfortunately, Qin Fuxiao witnessed her brother commit suicide by slitting his wrists. Qin Fuxiao is untouched by her suitor in Beijing and decides to leave Beijing for her hometown.
Yang Jie, a former soldier and pig breeder, is now an ordinary crystal businessman in Beijing. He has changed his name several times following the advice of geomancy masters. One day he suddenly comes to realize that the right way is to return to simplicity and let nature take its courses. Yang’s driver drives him, Qin Fuxiao and Tiansong back to Huaihai.
Chu is visiting the earthquake rubble when he learns of his wife’s pregnancy. He gets drunk for the first time in his life and gives a lecture on his thoughts about The 39th Christmas Eve.
Professor Jacob Samuel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem arrives in Shanghai. His father once lived in Shanghai and left the city after Israel was founded in 1942. During his trip to Shanghai, Chu translates for him and helps him as he is searching for the marks left behind by his father.
Chu got to know Jerusalem for the first time when he was only 9 years old. Back then, Chu, Yang Jie and Yi Chang’an unexpected one day found a granny, Qin Huan, reciting the Bible in an abandoned church. In her reciting, she mentioned the word Jerusalem. During the “Cultural Revolution,” Qin Huan, a former prostitute was the prime target for harsh criticism. She later converted to Christianity because Reverend Sha had saved her life. Jing Tianci was humiliated and bullied by his classmates because he was still breast-fed, and then committed suicide by slitting his wrists. Chu was terrified at the sight of the blood and escaped. As a result, Jing Tianci was unable to receive first aid in time and died. This incident later became too heavy a cross for Chu to bear and kept on haunting him.
As Yang Jie is on his way back to Huaihai with his driver, Qin Fuxiao, his wife Cui Xiaoxuan and daughter have already returned there by plane. Yang Jie’s mother, a teacher referred to as “Ms Li,” was sent to work in the countryside as an “educated youth” in Beijing. She worked very hard in the village and later married a local carpenter. Then she settled down there in the village. She was later suspected of pretending to be Beijinger, as all the letters she had sent to Beijing proved to be pieces of blank paper and she never went back to Beijing but only traveled to some other places during the family-visiting leaves. When her son Yang Jie decided to seek a career in Beijing, she said to him: Good! Marry a Beijing girl, just for the sake of your mother! Cui Xiaoxuan was angry with Yang Jie, for he had taken too much care of Qin Fuxiao. Yang Jie shares his personal story of how he earned his “first bucket of gold” by reselling crystal through virtue of his perseverance, smartness and flexibility.
Chu visits his friend Lü Dong in hospital. Lü Dong’s mother and wife are both very aggressive, making him feel so pressured. His wife claimed that he is mentally ill, hospitalizing him and then divorcing him. Yi Chang’an often disappears for a while and changes his phone number quite frequently. He has also opened a bank account under the name of Chu. It turns out that Yi Chang’an was making fake certificates for thieves. Yi becomes a fugitive after his illegal acts come to light. He finally returns to Huaihai after fleeing through several other cities. Shu Xiu’s husband Zhou Zhicheng doubles Chu the price for Dahetang Pharmacy. Zhou Zhicheng and Chu then drink together.
Chu and Yang Jie head for the train station to pick up Yi, only to learn that the train is running late. But they unexpectedly find Yi in a police car. While Yi was teaching in a middle school, his wages were often docked while the school management embezzled public funds for dining. After receiving his delayed wages from the school, Yi resigned and went to Beijing. At the police station, Chu and Yang Jie meet Yi, who tells them about his plan to donate money and publish a book for his father.
The title of his column is 2019, a story of everyone in 10 years time. Chu sells his house to Qin Fuxiao and they go to Real Estate Transaction Authority to handle ownership transfer formalities. When visiting Lü Dong, Chu tells him why he is so determined to go to Jerusalem. Chu believes Jerusalem is a symbolic dwelling blessed with the pathway to belief and man’s inner peace. Chu discovered the first sentence of 2019 by accident: All that falls on the ground must be picked up.
长篇小说《白鹿原》为陈忠实的代表作。该作被国家教育部列入“大学生必读”系列，被评为“百年百种优秀中国文学图书”（1900—1999），迄今已发行逾 200 万册，并被改编成秦腔、话剧、舞剧、连环画、雕塑等多种艺术形式。