Xu Mao and His Daughters unfolds around the entry of the CPC working party into a mountainous village in Sichuan’s Tuojiang River area in winter 1975 and centers around the Xu family. Against the background of the Cultural Revolution, the novel, the first on this theme, describes the impact of the political calamity on the Chinese countryside, with the focus on Xu Mao, a simple and industrious peasant, and his family. Abandoning the leftist literary theories still prevalent at the time, Zhou instead builds the novel on his genuine feelings and deep reflections on real life and characters. Under the guidelines of truth, kindness and beauty, he succeeds in reflecting the truth of life, presenting moral courage and creating literary beauty. The novel stands out with multi-plot structure, vivid characterization and splendid language.
In the acceptance speech of Mao Dun Literature Award, Zhou said: “the People are the mother to the writer. Life is the soil of literature.” The success of Xu Mao and His Daughters lies in the author’s faithful pursuit of the realist literary tradition, shining with originality, vividness and linguistic brilliance. Zhou manages to create an artistic world which whilst based in reality, shines with sparks of idealism, enriching contemporary Chinese literature.