The Garlic Ballads

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Overview

The peasants of Paradise County have been living a hardscrabble existence virtually unchanged for hundreds of years, until a 1987 glut on the garlic market forces them to watch the crop that is their lifeblood wilt, rot, and blacken in the fields - leading them to storm the seat of corrupt Communist officialdom in an apocalyptic riot. Against this epic backdrop unfold three intricately intertwined tales of love, loyalty, and retribution: between man and woman, father and child, friend and friend. Railing against ...
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The Garlic Ballads: A Novel

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Overview

The peasants of Paradise County have been living a hardscrabble existence virtually unchanged for hundreds of years, until a 1987 glut on the garlic market forces them to watch the crop that is their lifeblood wilt, rot, and blacken in the fields - leading them to storm the seat of corrupt Communist officialdom in an apocalyptic riot. Against this epic backdrop unfold three intricately intertwined tales of love, loyalty, and retribution: between man and woman, father and child, friend and friend. Railing against the chaos and destruction is the blind, almost Homeric bard, the street singer Zhang Kou, whose insistent raised voice is the conscience of his beloved land - and whose fate will mirror the country's. Bawdy, mystical, and brawling, The Garlic Ballads portrays a landscape at once strange and utterly compelling, a people whose fierce passions overflow the rigid confines of their traditions. With this novel, China's most courageous and eloquent writer powerfully confirms his place in world literature.

From the author of Red Sorghum comes an epic novel of love, brutality and magic realism, which was banned in China. A glut on the garlic market leaves farmers watching the crop rot in the field--until they storm the Communist establishment in an apocalyptic riot. Thus, unfolds three intricately entwined tales of love and consequence.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Through this powerful, fiercely lyrical story of a Chinese garlic farmer's 1988 revolt, Mo Yan (Red Sorghum) uncompromisingly portrays the harsh realities of an existence difficult to comprehend. Garlic farmer Gao Ma aches with love for Fang Jinju, whose parents are using her as a pawn in an arranged marriage. Defying her two thuggish brothers and her father, who in the past has savagely beaten her, Jinju, pregnant with Gao Ma's child, runs away with him but meets a tragic end. The grief-stricken farmer is thrown in jail for his alleged role as ringleader of a farmer's riot-an angry mob has destroyed a government building to protest a county official's refusal to buy the garlic crop amid a surfeit. Gao Ma's fate is entwined with that of another imprisoned protestor, Gao Yang, who preserves his sanity through the love of his wife and blind 10-year-old daughter. Mo Yan fuses gritty realism, stunning imagery, acid satire, bawdiness, dream sequences, interior monologues, and flashbacks to the Cultural Revolution. His luminous prose lays bare the corrupt bureaucracy, grinding poverty and pervasive oppression borne by millions of inhabitants in the People's Republic. (May)
Library Journal
Mo Yan, author of the critically acclaimed Red Sorghum (LJ 3/15/93), which was made into a film directed by Zhang Yimou, presents a tale of brutality and corruption set in China in 1988. The novel focuses on the lives of three individuals imprisoned for their roles in the garlic revolt, a peasant uprising against corrupt government. Gao Ma has additional problems: his beloved has been promised to another in direct violation of the Marriage Laws, but the officials are siding with her family. The peasants are seen as adhering to the idealism of socialism and wondering how the new social formation came to be embodied in such corrupt officials. The action of the novel goes backward and forward in time, alternating between fact and fantasy. Overall, a very violent book, occasionally interrupted by scenes of domestic harmony; for a specialized readership.-Debbie Bogenschutz, Cincinnati Technical Coll.
San Francisco Chronicle
“A work of considerable political power and lyrical beauty.”
Newsday
“Mo Yan gives you a sharp and sentimental view of peasant life, while demonstrating at full throttle the nastiness, brutality, and brevity of it all.”
New York Times
““Mo Yan is one of China’s best writers.””
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140233919
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 7/1/1996
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 7.74 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature, was born in 1955 in North Gaomi Township in Shandong Province, an impoverished rural area that is the setting for much of his fiction. Despite the audacity of his writing, he has won virtually every national literary prize, including China’s Annual Writer’s Prize, its most prestigious award. He is the author of The Garlic Ballads, The Republic of Wine; Shifu, You’ll Do Anything for a Laugh; Big Breasts and Wide Hips, and Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, all published by Arcade, as well as Red Sorghum and Pow!. Mo Yan and his family live in Beijing.

Howard Goldblatt taught modern Chinese literature and culture for more than a quarter of a century. He is the foremost translator of modern and contemporary Chinese literature in the West and a former Guggenheim Fellow.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2012

    Enjoy?

    This is a rubbish book!

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 20, 2012

    The book is excellent, although I'm not sure it is Nobel-Prize-

    The book is excellent, although I'm not sure it is Nobel-Prize-worthy. The e-book production on the other hand is terrible. It looks like it was scanned and then never proofed. So many typographical errors that it is distracting.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2012

    Gjgjhjah

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