"One of the most significant Chinese novels of our time."

- New York Times

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When Handong, a ruthless and wealthy businessman, is introduced to Lan Yu, a naïve, working-class architectural student—the attraction is all consuming.

Arrogant and privileged, Handong is unsettled by this desire, while Lan Yu quietly submits. Despite divergent lives, the two men spend their nights together, establishing a deep connection. When loyalties are tested, Handong is left questioning his secrets, his choices, and his very identity.

Beijing Comrades is the story of a torrid love affair set against the sociopolitical unrest of late-eighties China. Due to its depiction of gay sexuality and its critique of the totalitarian government, it was originally published anonymously on an underground gay website within mainland China. This riveting and heartbreaking novel, circulated throughout China in 1998, quickly developed a cult following, and remains a central work of queer literature from the People’s Republic of China. This is the first English-language translation of Beijing Comrades.


Book Cover Credit

C.P. Sajith

The Designer:

C.P. Sajith is a designer wrapped in an artist, wrapped in an art director. He began his love affair with ideas and advertising in Bangalore, and went on to have a string of affairs with ad agencies, big and small. Along the way, he bagged over 50 regional, national and international awards. And the coveted ‘Art Director of the Year’ title, thrice – a fun fact he rarely mentions. Ever the free-spirited recluse, he is at the moment rediscovering the joys of trying new styles in sketching, painting, doodling, and typography.

The Cover Design:

Communism, Crime, and China, strangely have the same hue. When Sajith was exploring themes for capturing the essence of a trailblazing gay novel set in Tiananmen times, he made a conscious decision: an iconic tale needs an iconic treatment. That’s how he hit upon the graphic imagery of male pictograms in a tight embrace cosying up on a hazy red map. The colours of passion and the rawness of the glyphs, allude to the mildly erotic relationship. Even the subtle play of type in ‘Beijing’ is an indication of two passionate individuals separated by a callous system.

Chen Handong is a young and wealthy businessman whose rise in power hinges on a closely guarded secret: his sexuality. Until he meets Lan Yu, a young architecture student. Over the next few years, their love for each other blossoms even as the students' protest leading up to the Tiananmen Square events unfolds. In such a world, what room is there for love that is both forbidden and illegal?

Beijing Comrades is a chronicling of a love story that must withstand love's doubting gaze as much as as a China that offers no place or respite for lovers of the same sex.

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Bei-Tong | Translation by Scott E Myers

Bei-Tong is the anonymous author of Beijing Comrades. The pseudonymous author, whose real-world identity has been a subject of debate since the story was first published on a gay Chinese website over a decade ago, is known variously as Beijing Comrade, Beijing Tongzhi, Xiao He, and Miss Wang.

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