Like a Speeding Youth

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Like a Speeding Youth
Author Han Han
Cover artist Han Han himself
Country China
Language Chinese
Genre Satire, Postmodern
Published 2002 Writers Publishing House
Media type paperback
Pages 225
ISBN 978-7-5063-2252-2
word count = 135000

Like a Speeding Youth (像少年啦飞驰, pinyin: Xiàng shàonián la fēichí) is a 2002 novel by Chinese writer Han Han.[1] It is Han's third book, and uses Han's traditional writing style, a mixture of humor and satire about society. The novel indicates contemporary Chinese students' as well as lower class workers' confusion and current situation.


It is universal that published books' prefaces are something like expectances that this book could sell well or praises for the authors' great talents by another several masters. However, the content of the Like a Speeding Youth's preface differs from the majority. The content of the preface can be divided into four parts.[2]

  • Firstly, Han Han explains the stories behind the book. He writes that he took almost one year to finish these ten thousand words. During this period, Han Han admits that he didn't write them all at once but stopped at irregular intervals. That intermittent writing way brings about two main problems. One is low efficiency. Another is usually, when he picked up his pen again, he could not remember the previous plots. So the weird phenomenon that sometimes a story does not end but another new story starts without any transition usually shows up in this work. He emphasized that these on and off plots were indeed a result of his laziness, not any special writing techniques.
  • Secondly, Han Han uses two real examples to specifically expound a currently terrible phenomenon in literary circles. One occurred upon himself. Triple Door is his first released novel and costs him much energy. He has ever said that he sincerely treasured it. But some experts don't seem to appreciate the novel. Han Han wrote in his preface, "I can't have to admire these people heart and soul. They even didn't know the color of my book's cover, but they are able to make up such comprehensive comments on it. Probably, that skill is exactly what they benefit from high education." Another illustration happened to his friend. Finishing reading, it's easy to find that although the male character changes, the problem stated from the incident is the same. Han Han points out directly that commenting on others doesn't make sense as much as doing some indeed meaning things.
  • Thirdly, Han Han switches his criticism to piracy vendors. Unlike normal thinking, Han Han doesn't care if vendors pirate his works to profiteer. The only issue he stresses is that he wishes vendors could enhance the piratic standard to respect the originals.
  • Fourthly, Han Han mentions that he is definitely not an indignant blue, although concluding the above statements, he actually acts as an indignant blue a little. This denial suggests to readers that he just speaks and acts following his heart and hates others who don't know his thoughts but are always judging him.[3]


This book can be divided into three parts according to three main characters' appearance and disappearance. They are Tie Niu (铁牛 TiěNiǘ), Lao Xia (老夏 LǎoXià) and Lao Qiang (老枪 LǎoQiāng).


In the first part, the narrator recounts the carefree life of the leading character and Tie Niu in Shanghai. In this part, the protagonist shows no interest in study. Junior school teachers appear as very cruel to less wealthy and less academically inclined students, which results in these two characters' hatred of school. In the following years, the two little boys skipped school all day and joined an informal faction. During the time in the faction, actually, they didn't do anything antisocial, they just idled away and laughed, shouted and played. But this part has a mysterious ending that Tie Niu disappeared in a certain summer holiday and no longer appeared.

In the second part, another important character Lao Xia appeared when the protagonist entered the university. In their daily life, they didn't act as students. Their lives were full of drinking and different methods of pursuing different beautiful girls. Completely empty, they started to study cars. In a car accident, Xia injures someone and is thrown out of the college. Eventually, the protagonist was expelled, either because of this or being framed for stealing cars.

In the last part, the author describes Lao Qiang and the protagonist's lives as fake writers. They wrote books for famous authors and then published in their names. The protagonist and Lao Qiang lived in the low social class. Besides writing, they had nothing to do but idle away. But they could enjoy a short luxury life as long as they got payments from some underground editors.[4]

Main characters[edit]

Most characters in literary works don't simply stand alone, but stand for certain distinctive groups in current public life. On them, we can observe a lot of reflections of social issues. Here come our three male characters. They are Tie Niu, Lao Xia, Lao Qiang, who appear in different stages of 'MY' life and represent distinct social being.

  • Tie Niu (铁牛 TiěNiǘ) is a representative of partial current youth. They don't have clear life goal and idle away all day. The only way for them to obtain happiness seems just to be addicted to the Internet.
  • Lao Xia (老夏 LǎoXià) is typical of university students who totally indulge themselves in playing ball, playing computer games, walkout and drinking after a fierce high school life. Aimlessly, they live as loafers. Probably, their daily agenda is trying to find something a little interesting to kill time.
  • Lao Qiang (老枪 LǎoQiāng) appears on behalf of those nameless writers. They have amazing talents but lack opportunities. To survive and seek chance, they have no choice but to write for other famous writers.[5]

Writing devices[edit]

The book is written in the first person, in the style of a bildungsroman.


This book displays a lot of ugly realities in society and the author's criticism of teachers, colleges and some sophisticated literature masters. Because of Han's kind of unique and sarcastic literary writing style, many people become enthusiastic about it as well as some foreigners.[6]


  • Profile

Here's Han Han's brief introduction[7]

  • Value and Characteristics

Generally, writers would base their characters upon themselves.So, to some extent, the narrators in Like a Speeding Youth' reflect Han Han's personality. Having thoroughly appreciated the book does help readers to understand Han Han.

Han Han is a person who is eager to grasp any opportunity to vent his backlog of depression and resentment of certain current social circumstances. He always tries to impress us with his strong but implicit satire to some so-called critics. At the beginning, his words make us laugh. But after digging in, most people would stop to muse why these conditions occur in China from time to time, what the bigger crises of current educational system behind these phenomena are, and what solutions we should take to confront the severe issues.

Here's his recent speech about reform[8]

  • Public Comments


This distinctive preface indeed reminds me of such a term cynicism whose father is a smart lunatic, philosopher Diogenes. Cynicism advocate the belief of absolute freedom and intense contempt to authority. This sort of spirits, to some extent, reflects Han Han's lifelong motto. In that angle, we can speak up that Han Han is a modern Diogenes, who is also condemned by times[9]


However, Han Han indeed speak out where current social problems are and today'a adolescent's heart. That accounts for the reason why there are still many Han's supporters standing out to advocate their idols. Among these supporters, they also include some celebrities.[10][11][12]

Title Award
The First New Concept of Composition Contest in 1999 winner of the first prize by Cup to See Who
The Second New Concept of Composition Contest in 2000 Second prize
Triple Door in 2000 Remains the first among best-selling books for ten months
Minus One Time in 2000 The first in the annually national best-seller lists
Like a Speeding Youth in 2002 The first in the annual national best-seller lists
Chang Chaos in 2004 The first in the annual national best-seller lists


  1. ^ "Han Han to be published in English next year: New Yorker". China Times. 17 August 2011. Archived from the original on 16 September 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "像少年啦飞驰序_读书频道_新浪网". Archived from the original on 2011-11-06. Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  3. ^ ""想干什么就干什么"(2)_韩寒评传:一个划炮式爱国者的爱与哀愁_夏国祥_文化读书频道_新浪网". Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  4. ^ "像少年啦飞驰|韩寒|免费在线阅读". Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  5. ^ "不想用悲哀写你的简陋(1)_韩寒评传:一个划炮式爱国者的爱与哀愁_夏国祥_文化读书频道_新浪网". Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  6. ^ Kirsten, Didi (2010-05-13). "In Search of a Modern Humanism in China". China;Beijing (China): Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  7. ^ "韩寒 - 简介|资料|档案|写真 - 大陆男星 - 人民网·天津视窗". 2010-10-05. Archived from the original on 2012-01-21. Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  8. ^ "韩寒:谈革命_雅虎资讯". 2011-08-24. Archived from the original on 2012-01-09. Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  9. ^ "《时代周刊》评价韩寒 有趣+实话 拥寒=庸众?_娱乐频道_新华网". Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  10. ^ "老梁(梁宏达)对韩寒的评价". 2011-12-16. Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "[分享]韩寒经典语录 韩寒简介 - 秋水共长天原创情感文学论坛_恬静淡雅情感故事_纯净优美情感文章". Retrieved 2011-12-21. 

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