The Day the Sun Died


Yan Lianke

Winner of The Dream Of The Red Chamber Award: The World’s Distinguished Novel In Chinese

The Day the Sun Died

‘This exuberant but sinister fable confirms its author as one of China’s most audacious and enigmatic novelists’ The Economist

‘A brave masterful novel.’ The Irish Times

Yan Lianke’s powerful dystopian novel, narrated by a teenage boy, is set during a single night in a remote Chinese village… The underlying political message, that China is sleepwalking to disaster … But there is so much colour in the book, as the sleepwalkers act more and more oddly, that politics seems secondary. Poignant and unsettling’ Mail on Sunday

‘It’s a remarkable novel – open, like most good novels, to a variety of interpretations. The events described are incredible; the atmosphere all too believable.’ The Scotsman

‘This is a riveting, powerful reading experience.’ Publishers Weekly *

‘As dreamscape realized, however horrible, Yan’s novel belongs in the company of Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo and even James Joyce’s Ulysses.’ Kirkus

‘Lianke shows an incredible mastery of words, both brilliantly humorous and offbeat, making this novel a gripping read.’ Booklist

‘The Day the Sun Died is a powerful, captivating work of art.’ South China Morning Post

‘The Day the Sun Died is an allegory, but it isn’t just for China…. No matter where we live, this is our story, too, or could be, if things don’t change.’ Ploughshares

‘Yan is one of those rare geniuses who finds in the peculiar absurdities of his own culture the absurdities that infect all cultures . . . [The Day the Sun Died is] the creepiest book I’ve read in years: a social comedy that bleeds like a zombie apocalypse . . . Yan’s understated wit runs through these pages like a snake through fallen leaves . . . Invokes that fluid dream state in which everything represents something else, something deeper . . . A wake-up call about the path we’re on.’ Ron Charles, Washington Post

‘Effortlessly blending metaphor and allegory, symbolism and satire, Yan has crafted a distinct literary work of dystopian satire, a blend of bruising bureaucratic critique with a sly postmodern pastiche of realism, absurdism and the grotesque.’ Los Angeles Times

‘Gripping . . . Yan’s subject is China, but he has condensed the human forces driving today’s global upheavals into a bracing, universal vision.’ New York Times Book Review

‘This brutal satirical novel takes place on a single night, when a plague of somnambulism unleashes a host of suppressed emotions among the inhabitants of a Chinese village. The ensuing chaos is promptly struck from the official record. Reviewing it, Julian Gewirtz calls it a “gripping novel” that “forces readers to reflect on the side of the world that is ‘too absurd, too cruel and too unpleasant.’ … Yan’s subject is China, but he has condensed the human forces driving today’s global upheavals into a bracing, universal vision.”’ New York Times Book Review, 11 New Books We Recommend This Week

‘The provocative Chinese writer Yan Lianke offers a different sort of collective dream in his gripping novel…’ New York Times

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 new novel – winner of the Dream of the Red Chamber Award, one of the most prestigious honours for Chinese-language novels – is the 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 parlour. One evening, he notices a strange occurrence. Instead of preparing for bed, more and more neighbours start to 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 villagers are found dreamwalking, they act out the desires they’ve suppressed during waking hours. When 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.


  • Ryefield Taiwan
  • Grove Atlantic USA
  • Brilliance Audio North America
  • Text Australia
  • Chatto & Windus UK
  • Automatica Spain
  • Kawade Shobo Shinsha Japan
  • Philippe Picquier France
  • Nottetempo Italy
  • Ithaki Turkey
  • Takween Publishing Arabic
  • Klim Denmark
  • Panstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy Poland
  • Matthes & Seitz Berlin Germany
  • Cappelen Damm Norway
  • Polyandria No Age Russia
  • WSOY Finland

Material: Chinese, English editions (342pp)