I Did Not Kill My Husband

Zhenyun Liu, Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-Chun Lin, Translators

Arcade, 2016

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

Li Xuelian, married to Qin Yuhe, is pregnant with their second child. Happy news? Not in China, with its one-child policy. It is a crime. What is she to do? Her only option is divorcing before the second child is born.

“Once the baby has entered into the household registry, we’ll marry again. The baby will be born after the divorce, so we’ll each have one child when we marry again. No law says couples with one child can’t marry.” Perfect! Except that after the divorce, Qin marries . . . another woman who is expecting a baby. Mad with rage, Li runs to the judge, begging him to declare the divorce a sham so she may remarry and truly divorce the fool!

Liu’s politically charged plot reads like an absurd and hilarious comedy, but couched in his fiction is a harsh indictment of China’s one-child law and a head-on critique of China’s corrupt system. I Did Not Kill My Husband is storytelling and satire of the highest order, sharp-edged and ironic.

Translated by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin