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Mo Yan's booklist

( China Daily ) Updated: 2012-10-11 19:47:43

The Garlic Ballads

A novel by Mo Yan and Howard Goldblatt (Nov 1, 2012)

Mo Yan’s most stylistic and imaginative novel The Garlic Ballads, centered on the 1987 “garlic glut” revolt in Paradise county, portrays the lives of Chinese farmers in the 1980s from a humanitarian perspective. The San Francisco Chronicle considers it “a work of considerable political power and lyrical beauty”.

Big Breasts and Wide Hips

A novel (Arcade Classics) by Mo Yan and Howard Goldblatt

The novel, narrated by the spoiled and frail Jintong — the ninth child (and first son) of the iron-willed protagonist mother — tells about how the mom endured every bit of hardship to give birth to, bring up and save the lives of her children and grandchildren from the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), through the Japanese invasion in the 1930s, the civil war, the “cultural revolution” (1966-76) and the post-Mao years. The female body, as the title suggests, recurs as the central image and metaphor of the book, which sheds light on the author’s consciousness of maternal instinct.

The Washington Post praises it as “broad and bold … It’s fiction in the grand, triple-decker tradition ... If it has flaws, they mostly are those of ambition, of reaching further and higher than the material can bear. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Life and Death are Wearing Me Out

A novel by Mo Yan and Howard Goldblatt (July 1, 2012)

The 550,000-word novel only took Mo 43 days to compete. It uses the nostalgic chapter form to develop stories based on the reincarnation of protagonist Ximen Nao from 1950-2000. Despite being a kind and generous landowner, Nao is deprived of land and sentenced to death in Land Reform Movement of 1948. He goes to hell, where Lord Yama, king of the underworld, allows him to be reborn first as a donkey, then as an ox, pig, dog and monkey — and, finally, the big-headed boy Lan Qiansui.

Through imaginative and entertaining narratives, a picture of Chinese farmers’ lives after the founding of People’s Republic of China emerges.

Jonathan Spence from Yale University calls it “a wildly visionary and creative novel, constantly mocking and rearranging itself and jolting the reader with its own internal commentary.”

Pow!

By Mo Yan and Howard Goldblatt (Jan 15, 2013)

In 2001, Mo Yan gathers six of his novellas into Pow!. Set in the Chinese countryside, the author treats us with abundant and impressive images, such as those of an ostrich, a camel, a donkey and a dog, as well as more everyday varieties. The narrator, who wields an omniscient perspective, reviews different circumstances of life and death, and of the past and present, leading readers through the human history. Publishers Weekly says: “Mo Yan’s Pow! is a comic masterpiece.”

Shifu, You’ll Do Anything for a Laugh

By Mo Yan (Jul 16, 2003)

This book is a collection of eight of Mo Yan’s abrasive and imaginative stories written in the 1980s and ’90s.

The well-received title piece tells a story of old Ding, a factory worker laid off one month before retirement.

After considering every possible option, he decides to take an entrepreneurial approach and converts an abandoned bus into a “love cottage”, which he rents to couples in need of privacy.

In this way, he unexpectedly achieves prosperity but his life becomes more complicated.

Publishers Weekly says it is, “more like a random buffet than a carefully planned meal”.

The Republic of Wine

A novel by Mo Yan (Aug 24, 2001)

The Republic of Wine is a highly experimental work that Mo believes to be a perfect novel. Readers can find every possible element of modern literature in this 1989 masterpiece — sleuth stories, cruel Realism, Expressionism, Symbolism and Structuralism.

Red Sorghum: A Novel of China

By Mo Yan and Howard Goldblatt (April 1, 1994)

Red Sorghum is Mo Yan’s first novel to be translated into English and was better received after its award-winning film adaptation by Zhang Yimou.

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