Yan Lianke


Author's books

Hard Like Water


Hard Like Water is a thrilling story about an erotic affair during China’s Cultural Revolution.

Returning to his hometown—and his wife—soldier Aijun sees a young woman, Hongmei, wandering barefoot along the railway tracks in the late-afternoon sun. From that moment on, Aijun and Hongmei spend their days and nights writing pamphlets and attending rallies: they are the engines of history. But soon their sexual and revolutionary fervour merge and a crazed new love explodes between them.

The party bosses are impressed by the ardour of the pair’s work. Emboldened, the couple build a ‘tunnel of love’—to further the revolution, of course, but also to connect their homes for their secret rendezvous. What will happen to their dreams of a life together?

Hard Like Water is an irresistible tale about sex and revolution, and a compelling drama about the nature of political power—by one of China’s greatest contemporary writers.