A new generation comes to terms with China’s past

Cheng Gong and Li Jiaqi go way back. Both hailing from dysfunctional families, they grew up together in a Chinese provincial capital in the 1980s. Now, many years later, the childhood friends reunite and discover how much they still have in common. Both have always been determined to follow the tracks of their grandparents’ generation to the heart of a mystery that perhaps should have stayed buried. What exactly happened during that rainy night in 1967, in the abandoned water tower? Zhang Yueran’s layered and hypnotic prose reveals much about the unshakable power of friendship and the existence of hope. Hers is a unique fresh voice representing a new generation of important young writers from China, shedding a different light on the country’s recent past.


“Cocoon is a stupendous novel, a beautiful and formidable achievement on the grandest scale… a triumph.” —IAN McEWAN

“An irresistible siren-song of a novel by one of our most original voices.” —JUNOT DÍAZ

“Cocoon is a deft, brilliant piece of writing in two voices—a clarion call. Her novel should find a huge and sympathetic audience in the English language.” —JAY PARINI, author of Borges and Me

“Zhang Yueran is one of the most exciting new Chinese writers.” —FRANCES WEIGHTMAN, Director of The Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing

“In this captivating novel Zhang Yueran suggests that the new Chinese society cannot be at peace with itself until it breaks out of the ideological straitjacket of the past.” —PAUL FRENCH, author of Midnight in Peking

“With exquisite, precise, and lyrical language, Zhang Yueran’s writing surpasses and distinguishes itself from that of her contemporaries.” —YAN LIANKE


In France it was nominated for the Best Foreign Book Prize 2019 and won the Best Asian Novel of the Prix Transfuge 2019.



Publication Date

October 2022


Cocoon on the World Editions website