As probably most people I never heard the name of this writer, so started looking on Amazon and Wikipedia. I ended up buying a book.

Two titles I tracked that are most interesting:
Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out
The Republic of Wine

And extrapolated comments that piqued my interest:

“there are three major features in his works: extraordinary characters; language with absurd local flavor (or somewhat black humor of the absurd); and plots with symbolic meaning.”

“Whatever the subject matter is, a torrential flow of rich, unpredictable and often lacerating words remains his trademark.”

“Today’s most revered, feared, and controversial Chinese novelist offers a tour de force in which the real, the absurd, the comical, and the tragic are blended into a fascinating read.”

“He flouts literary conformity, spiking his earthy realism with fantasy, hallucination and metafiction.”

“This “lumbering animal of a story,” as he calls it, combines the appeal of a family saga set against tumultuous events with the technical bravura of innovative fiction. Catch a ride on this wheel of transmigration.”

“use of multiple narrators”

“Much of the book is very funny, especially when the narrator is one of the animal reincarnations Of Ximen Nao (he returns as a donkey, an ox, a pig, and a dog) commenting on the foibles of humans and the many reforms of the Mao era.”

“This book is written masterfully and encompasses a half century with sorrow and wit.”

“Set in the fictional province of Liquorland, this tall tale begins with a rumor of cannibal feasts featuring children as the delectable main course. In response, Chinese officials send special investigator Ding Gou’er to look into the allegations. He arrives by coal truck at the Mount Lao Coal Mine, where he meets the legendary Diamond Jin, Vice-Minister of the Liquorland Municipal Party Committee Propaganda Bureau, a man known for an epic ability to hold his booze. Almost at once, Ding’s worst fears seem to be realized when he is invited to a special dinner, given enough alcohol to stun an ox, and then served what appears to be “a golden, incredibly fragrant little boy.” Despite his hosts’ explanation that the boy’s arms are made of lotus root, his legs of ham sausage, and his head from a silver melon, Ding remains suspicious–until he is rendered so addled by wine that he ends up eating half an arm all on his own.”

“A lesser novelist might be satisfied with just this one narrative thread; Mo Yan, however, has bigger ambitions. The correspondence between fictional character and author allows Mo Yan to wax satirical on the subject of art, politics, and the troubling point where the two intersect in a Socialist society: “One of the tenets of the communism envisioned by Marx,” the hopeful Yidou writes, “was the integration of art with the working people and of the working people with art. So when communism has been realized, everyone will be a novelist.””

“only a first-rate artist like Mo Yan could pull off such a subversive and darkly comic metafiction.”

“he waxes metafictional in this savage, hallucinatory farce.”

“The novel grows progressively more febrile in tone, with pervasive, striking imagery and wildly imaginative digressions that cumulatively reveal the tremendous scope of his vision.”

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  1. By » The Republic of Wine Looping Wor(l)d on 09 Nov 2012 at 2:23 am

    […] Actually, I bought both. “The Republic of Wine” arrived first. […]

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