Lu Nei

Lu Nei profile picture

Lu Nei was born in 1973. He has been a worker, a salesman, a warehouse manager, a radio broadcaster and a creative director for an advertising agency. His first novel, Young Babylon, was published in 2007.

Featured Reading Group Title

Young Babylon

Young Babylon, Lu Nei’s first book, was published in 2007. It has been described by book reviewers as a Chinese Catcher in the Rye. It’s a wry, slightly detached story narrated by the teenage Lu Xiaolu, who aims to work his way up from factory worker to cadre, just so he can spend all day in an office drinking tea and reading the paper. The book is an off-beat view into the lives and aspirations (or lack thereof) of this 1970s generation.

More Information

  • Young Babylon is featured in our summer 2012 Chinese reading group. Get in touch via if you would like to read along or hear about upcoming meetings
  • If you’ve read the book or the translated extracts that we shared in the group, let us know what you think by commenting below.




  1. This is so much fun! The voice and humour is spot-on – Lu Nei’s comedy definitely translates well. Life in a factory and the residential area nearby (Pesticide Village) is fascinating but it never feels like the author is adding explanations that are extraneous to the actual novel. As I can only read the English extract, I’d love to know how the book works as a whole. Whether all these anecdotes create a convincing novel. I’d love to read more.

  2. Nicky Harman says:

    I’m very struck by the warmth of his humour, and the LOL quality. The warmth, in particular, is a rare quality in Chinese literature where humour is often OTT, cruel, fantastic, rude etc etc (as elsewhere in the world of course!) I find some of the episodes in Babylon quite captivating

  3. Chenxin says:

    The Shanghai reading group had a chance to meet Lu Nei, who was kind enough to join us for part of our meeting, and learn more about the industrial setting of this novel. We loved the assortment of characters in the factory, the little sketches/episodes, and (without giving too much away) the love story that develops…

  4. Emily Jones says:

    Just want to add my thoughts to the mix. Like many, I really enjoyed the book. Love Lu Nei’s wicked sense of humour and the warmth with which he expresses his sarcasm. The episodes are lovely and I personally like the way the sketches and the way the novel progresses. As Nicky said, it’s so much fun and makes such a change to read something that can weave together social satire, warmth and humour all at once. It also feels really ‘of’ China, and at the same time speaks to all.

  5. Jim says:

    My first taste of lighthearted but intelligent and substantive Chinese literature. I like this guy! I’d love to have beers with him and learn more about coming of age in the post-great leap era. This book is funny, engaging, insightful, and seemingly honest. It has to be semi-autobiographical, maybe flat out memoir, but whether ‘real’ or imagined, it reads authentic and leaves me thirsting for more.


Leave a Comment to Jim

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Powered by WordPress | Deadline Theme : An Awesem design by tg