All the time I was reading this book, I heard that song from South Pacific going through my head. You know, the one that goes ‘happy talk, keep talking happy talk’. That describes the hero, Happy Liu, of Pingwa’s novel about a group of trash pickers. They leave their country homes behind to come to the big city, hoping to find a better life. What they find is hard work, little money and every man’s hand turned against them.
In spite of his troubles, Happy always find the best in his circumstances, and wins our hearts, even though we know it’s hopeless. Happy lacks the cunning to steal and cheat his way to success. Exploited at every turn, it is hopeless. Nevertheless, Happy continues to hope, and searches for a happy ending.