The extraordinary life of Zhuang Zhou sits halfway between fable and philosophy. “It was twenty-five centuries ago in the land of Song, between the Yellow River and the River Huai: Zhuang Zhou was born without a cry with his eyes wide open.” Welcome to China in the fifth century BCE, a colorful, violent, unstable world into which Zhuang is born. Here royals raise huge armies, constantly waging wars against one another. They have slaves, concubines. Gold is everywhere. And so is hunger. Born rich and entitled, Zhuang learns to refuse any official function. His travels bring him closer to ordinary people, from whom he learns how to live a simple and useful life. This is how he will become one of the greatest Chinese philosophers who gave his name to his legendary book, the Zhuangzi, one of the two foundational texts of Taoism-a magnificent procession of lively stories in which we meet dwarfs, virtuous bandits, butchers, powerful lords in their castles, turtles, charming concubines, and false sages. In this remarkable bildungsroman, award-winning French novelist Patrick Rambaud spins out the extraordinary life of Zhuang Zhou-a poetic, cruel, and often humorous tale, halfway between fable and philosophy.