Mr Muo’s Travelling Couch (or The Complex of Judge Di) by Dai Sijie 戴思杰 (2005). Born in China, writes in French. Dai Sijie is also a film-maker.
Imagine Monkey (above from Aaron Shepard’s retelling) from The Journey to the West meets Cervantes and Rabelais via Freud and Lacan in modern China, ranging from the Cultural Revolution to Falun Gong, from Hainan Island in the south to Sichuan and Chengdu in the west, to Beijing. Imagine a sex scene punctuated by ruminations about Shanghai dumplings. Imagine bizarre scenes evocative of Grand Guignol. Imagine the damsel in distress is called “Volcano of the Old Moon”. Imagine the grotesque Judge Di who fashions art objects from the shell casings of bullets fired in executions. All are in this utterly delightful, very funny novel. The constant uncertainty whether psychoanalysis (whether Freudian of Lacanian) is or is not fortune telling is just one of many cross-cultural jokes that run through Mr Muo’s Travelling Couch. I loved it.
Definitely one of 2007’s top reads.