This trio of novellas deals with the Chinese peasantry and the fading bourgeoisie in the era before the 1949 revolution. The title piece was adapted into an acclaimed 1992 film of the same name; the book's publication coincides with the release of Raise the Red Lantern on video. In this story, 19-year-old Lotus abandons her college studies upon her father's suicide to become Fourth Mistress to middle-aged Chen Zuoqian. While the text primarily explores Lotus's relationships with other members of the extended Chen family, especially elder concubines Joy, Cloud and Coral, the plot ultimately turns on adultery, retribution and madness. Su's prose is sometimes dense with long, twisted sentences, but his unsentimental portrait of a young woman's lonely life leaves the reader chilled. The second novella, "1934 Escapes," chronicles a year of dark events in the history of a very different Chen family, peasants struggling against plague, poverty and jealousy. The first-person narration uncovers long-buried skeletons, and the prose reflects the hand-me-down quality of oral history: nothing is known for certain, but nothing is disbelieved. "Opium Family" traces the downfall of the Liu clan, decadent landowning opium growers about whom little is clear except the violence that surrounds their lives. Su moves between first- and third-person narrators with great effect in this work, the most structurally and thematically complex of the novellas. This book copy is in great condition with only some minor shelf wear.