Red Sorghum: A Novel of China

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Overview

The acclaimed novel of love and resistance during late 1930s China by Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature

Spanning three generations, this novel of family and myth is told through a series of flashbacks that depict events of staggering horror set against a landscape of gemlike beauty, as the Chinese battle both Japanese invaders and each other in the turbulent 1930s.

A legend in China, where it won major literary awards and ...

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Red Sorghum: A Novel of China

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Overview

The acclaimed novel of love and resistance during late 1930s China by Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature

Spanning three generations, this novel of family and myth is told through a series of flashbacks that depict events of staggering horror set against a landscape of gemlike beauty, as the Chinese battle both Japanese invaders and each other in the turbulent 1930s.

A legend in China, where it won major literary awards and inspired an Oscar-nominated film directed by Zhang Yimou, Red Sorghum is a book in which fable and history collide to produce fiction that is entirely new—and unforgettable.

A legend in China, where it won the major literary awards and inspired an Oscar-nominated film, this is a novel of family, myth, and memory, set during the fratricidal barbarity of the 1930s, when the Chinese battled both Japanese invaders and each other.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the way that Chinese landscape painting reshapes the viewer's perspective by offering not one but many focal points, this singularly forceful contemporary Chinese novel reinvents the notion of chronology. The narrator, a young man from the provinces, relates the intertwined histories of the Sino-Japanese war of the 1930s and of his parents and grandparents. A few key episodes serve as recurrent motifs: murders counterpoint battlefield massacres; women are raped by their saviors and by enemy soldiers; the community leader punishes gamblers and thieves with floggings, while the Japanese flog a saboteur as a preamble to skinning him alive. Mo Yan turns these events over and over, introducing each a fragment at a time and exploring their significance as they pass from one character's experience into another's memory. At first Yan's insistence on graphic and gruesome descriptions and his interest in bodily functions make the novel rough going. Eventually, however, his emphasis on the ignoble becomes a protest against the universal tendency to idealize the past. Instead, Mo Yan recreates a world defined by brutality and extends its horizons past wars and cultural revolutions; the ultimate cruelty emerges as oblivion. A memorable achievement. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Though this is the first of Mo Yan's novels to be translated into English, many Americans know his work from the film Red Sorghum , winner of the Silver Bear at the 1988 Berlin Film Festival. The four-chapter novel spans 40 years in rural China through flashbacks and foreshadowing, beginning with the Japanese invasion in the 1930s. Sorghum, used as food and as an ingredient of a potent wine, had been the focus and metaphor of peasant life during peacetime. In wartime, it becomes intertwined with the struggle for life. Death pervades this novel--death brutally dealt by Japanese troops, by factions within China, by crazed dog packs; death from suicide, starvation, and freezing. The strength and love of the narrator's grandmother and her lover insure the continuation of their line against all odds. But they cannot prevent the later introduction of a hybrid sorghum into their village that lacks the ``soul and bearing'' of prerevolution sorghum. For literary collections.-- D.E. Perushek, Univ. of Tennesee Libs., Knoxville
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140168549
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 4/28/1994
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 332,944
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Mo Yan is the pen name of the Chinese novelist Guan Moye, who is one of the most celebrated writers in the Chinese language. His best-known novels in the West include Red Sorghum, which was made into an award-winning film; The Garlic Ballads, Shifu: You’ll Do Anything for a Laugh; and Big Breasts and Wide Hips. He was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first resident of mainland China to win the award.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2013

    I really enjoyed this book!  It is not the type of book I usuall

    I really enjoyed this book!  It is not the type of book I usually read but picked it up at a local bookstore because the cover appealed to me and I was interested in reading the work of a Nobel prize winner.  Mo Yan brought the characters to life and I many times felt as if I were watching a film.   

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  • Posted March 22, 2013

    Hard book to review, and not able to recommend

    I chose to read this book based on recommendations of Barnes and Noble, and the fact it was set in, and about China, a country and its people that I constantly strive to learn more about. It was difficult to get beyond the first couple of pages, but I felt I could overcome my hesitancies, and move on. I could not do so; and therefore, I closed the book after only a few chapters and passed it on to my local library.

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