Jerusalem is a story about several young people Chu Pingyang, Yang Jie, Yi Chang’an and Qin Fuxiao who left their hometown in Huajie Street for Beijing, and ultimately come back for a reunion. Their joy and sorrow, as well as struggle are depicted to a nicety.
In the novel, the past events of their hometown and the current events in Beijing occur concurrently. The life stories of several young people represent the spirits and ethos of a whole generation born in the 1970s. Meanwhile, the story also presents the vicissitudes of many Huajie Street residents’ lives in the past decades, dating even back to the beginning of the founding of the PRC and the “Cultural Revolution.” The novel is also about history of Huajie Street and the embodiment of the southern village’s transition from a traditional era to contemporary days.
Chu Pingyang, the hero of the novel, has a PhD degree from Peking University. He is a good observer and thinker. His concern for ordinary people and philosophical thinking lends depth to the story. After every chapter of the novel, each of Chu’s essays for the column “Our Generation” is annexed as a contrast to the main body, giving the feeling of intertextuality.
The novel is highly symbolic with a combination of Jerusalem’s religious overtones and the hero’s depressed mood, pointing to the exploration of life’s ultimate meaning.