Author: Mo Yan
Translated by Howard Goldblatt
9780857422217 | PB | pp. 392 | 2014 | Seagull Books
POW!, set in China, is a bizarre, darkly humorous tale in which a benign old monk who listens to a prospective novice’s tale of depravity, violence, and carnivorous excess while in a tragic family drama, nearly everyone dies.
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In this novel by the 2012 Nobel Laureate in Literature, a benign old monk listens to a prospective novice’s tale of depravity, violence and carnivorous excess while a nice little family drama, in which nearly everyone dies, unfurls. But in this tale of sharp hatchets, bad water and a rusty WWII mortar, we can’t help but laugh. Reminiscent of the novels of dark masters of European absurdism like Günter Grass, Witold Gombrowicz or Jakov Lind, Mo Yan’s POW! is a comic masterpiece.
In this bizarre romp through the Chinese countryside, the author treats us to a cornucopia of cooked animal flesh—ostrich, camel, donkey, dog as well as the more common varieties. As his dual narratives merge and feather into one another, each informing and illuminating the other, Mo Yan probes the character and lifestyle of modern China. Displaying his many talents, as fabulist, storyteller, scatologist, master of allusion and cliché and more, POW! carries the reader along quickly, hungrily and giddily, up until its surprising dénouement.
Mo Yan has been called one of the great novelists of modern Chinese literature and the New York Times Book Review has hailed his work as harsh and gritty, raunchy and funny. He writes big, sometimes mystifying, sometimes infuriating, but always entertaining novels—and POW! is no exception.
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