Huang Xiaoyang’s series “Second in Command” the hottest of China’s red-hot “officialdom novels” so named because they bring readers into the rarified the world of Chinese bureaucratic politics.
Officialdom novels reappeared in the late 1970s after Mao’s death. The newer officialdom novels offers not so much criticism as tips on how to get into the game- a testament to China’s growing cultures of careerism. Picture the film Wall Street featuring a happy ending. The China’s middle class has expanded over the past decades; novelists have shifted their focus from critiquing the government to explaining which is actually happening inside. Today’s best selling officialdom novel are not necessarily
Indeed “Second in Command” is a kind of handbook for getting ahead- a novelized the Art of War for aspiring bureaucrats. For example it offers tips on how to talk to one’s boss in different situations. Even for government officials these novels offer some of the clearest explanation of China’s notoriously closed off political system. For readers without government connect the books satisfy a craving for a people behind the bamboo certain of high politics.