Pow!(Book review)

Author:Mo Yan

By Mo Yan

Chinese novelist Mo Yan won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. His novels in English translation include Red Sorghum (1993), Big Breasts & Wide Hips (2004), The Garlic Ballads (1995), and The Republic of Wine (2000).


THE STORY: Set in a rural China, Mo Yan's darkly comic novel centers on Luo Xiaotong, a young boy with an obsession with meat. When Xiaotong's father abandons the family for another woman, his mother stops feeding him meat to save money. Chinese capitalism soon transforms Xiaotong's sleepy village, with farmers leaving their fields to work in a new meat factory in which dangerous chemicals are used to illegally inflate the weight of its products. Young Xiaotong eventually becomes the factory's manager, encouraging the village's obsession with devouring flesh of all sorts, including donkey's lips and dog meat. The factory brings wealth to some in the village, but at what cost?

Seagull Books. 440 pages. $27.50. ISBN: 9780857420763

Boston Globe ****

"Among the writers we have available to us in this country, however, none has returned Chinese history to human scale (if not always in human form) quite so vividly as Mo Yan." JOHN FREEMAN

Guardian (UK) ****

"Yan creates extremely powerful characters. ... And, pleasingly for a novel about meat, Howard Goldblatt's translation is frequently poetic--making countless passages about shining entrails, greasy pig heads and steaming pots of dog flesh all but waft off the page." CHRIS COX

Los Angeles Times ****

"Mo the novelist slips past the censors by dressing up his cutting realism in absurd and fantastic clothing. In doing so, he's embracing a long tradition that stretches from Cervantes to the German novelist Gunter Grass." HECTOR TOBAR

Washington Post ****

"On Oct. 11, the Chinese writer Mo Yan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, and two months later his new novel, Pow!, demonstrates for Americans why he deserved to win. It's a vibrant, visceral novel that is both personal and political, realistic and surrealistic, funny and shocking. STEVEN MOORE

New York Times ****

"Like many Mo Yan novels Pow! is difficult to...

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