Wolf Totem: A Novel

Wolf Totem: A Novel


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Wolf Totem: A Novel by Jiang Rong

China's runaway bestseller and winner of the inaugural Man Asian Literary Prize

Published in China in 2004, Wolf Totem has broken all sales records, selling millions of copies (along with millions more on the black market). Part period epic, part fable for modern days, Wolf Totem depicts the dying culture of the Mongols--the ancestors of the Mongol hordes who at one time terrorized the world--and the parallel extinction of the animal they believe to be sacred: the fierce and otherworldly Mongolian wolf. Beautifully translated by Howard Goldblatt, the foremost translator of Chinese fiction, this extraordinary novel is finally available in English.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143115144
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/31/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 564,210
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jiang Rong was born in Jiangsu in 1946. His father’s job saw the family move to Beijing in 1957, and Jiang entered the Central Academy of Fine Art in 1967. His education cut short by events in China, the twenty-one-year-old Jiang volunteered to work in Inner Mongolia’s East Ujimqin Banner in 1967, where he lived and labored with the native nomads for the next eleven years of his life. He took with him two cases filled with Chinese translations of Western literary classics, and spent years immersed in personal studies of Mongolian history, culture, and tradition. A growing fascination for the mythologies surrounding the wolves of the grasslands inspired him to learn all he could about them and he adopted and raised an orphaned wolf cub. In 1978 he returned to Beijing, continuing his education at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences one year later. Jiang worked as an academic until his retirement in 2006. Wolf Totem is a fictional account of life in the 1970s that draws on Jiang’s personal experience of the grasslands of China’s border region.

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Wolf Totem 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story is engaging and the descriptions of the setting is wonderful!
Alpha_Dragon More than 1 year ago
I just had the pleasure of reading the book "Wolf Totem: A Novel" by Jiang Rong. The novel is set on the Olonbulang, a grasslands plain in Inner Mongolia, during the 1960's. Chen Zhen, a Han Chinese student sent to study the Mongolian people, is one of the main characters in the novel. There are two other main characters. One of them is Bao, who represents the interests of the Communist Government in a variety of official positions. The other main character is the Mongolian Wolves as a whole as told through the tribal elder name Bilgee. The book starts with Chen and Bilgee hiding and observing a large Wolf Pack hunting Gazelle in the winter. Bilgee takes Chen out to see this event because Chen showed a uniquely intense interest in the Mongolian Wolves. Chen Zhen is an eager student that learns much from Bilgee, who takes Chen under his wing and treats him like a son. Chen quickly develops a obsession for the wolves, who represent everything Old World, including tradition and spirituality. Later we are introduced to Bao, who represents everything New World, especially progress and irreverence. The rest of the book is a gripping drama between Bilgee and Bao over how the Olonbulang and all it's treasures should be used. Every grasslands resource is effected, but it is the wolves that are the center of the book. Every dramatic moment revolves around whether the wolves should be revered or exterminated. Chen, who works at herding sheep, would normally be a mere observer to this struggle. However, he is so intrigued by the wolves that his obsession leads him to the desire to capture and raise a wolf cub. When he succeeds he is quickly thrown into the center of the struggle. Chen has ties to both sides, and looks to reconcile to two and bring peace. Jiang Rong does a fantastic job in describing the Olonbulang in vivid detail, but his greatest writing is reserved for the wolves themselves. The wolf cub, who has no name except 'Little Wolf', is described in such detail you can almost see him in front of you! Ultimately, this book is very tragic. Jiang describes the wolves as ruthless, bloody apex predators, but by the end of the book you just want to raise your head and give a long wolf howl of mourning. I highly recommend this book, it was one of the best books I have read in a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good, please make more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WhiteCloudCrane More than 1 year ago
Apparently "Wolf Totem" has sold millions of copies in China; that's "sold," not read at the library or borrowed from a friend. Since I have a great interest in Chinese culture, I tried to read it, but could not get into it at all, not even when I tried to think of wolves as Mongols and sheep as Han Chinese, which is probably a pretty trite and not very accurate simile in the first place. The novel just didn't click for me. Blood-thirsty wolves are not my cup of tea, and the endless descriptions of dying and suffering animals didn't exactly make my day, either. No, "Bambi" is not my favorite novel, ;-) but neither is "Wolf Totem." If you like Jack London and Joseph Conrad-type novels, or cold weather, you might like this. I hope it isn't made into a movie, though! LOL