Interspersed throughout the narrative—and Ding's faltering investigation—are letters sent to Mo Yan by one Li Yidou, a doctoral candidate in Liquor Studies and an aspiring writer. Each letter contains a story that Li would like the renowned author's help in getting published. However, Li's tales, each more fantastic and malevolent than the last, soon begin alarmingly to resemble the story of Ding's continuing travails in Liquorland. Peopled by extraordinary characters—a dwarf, a scaly demon, a troupe of plump, delectable boys raised in captivity, a cookery teacher who primes her students with monstrous recipes—Mo Yan's revolutionary tour de force reaffirms his reputation as a writer of world standing. Wild, bawdy, politically explosive, and subversive, The Republic of Wine is both mesmerizing and exhilarating, proving that no repressive regime can stifle true creative imagination.
Mo Yan is the pseudonym of Guan Moye, who was born in Gaomi, Shandong Province, China on March 5, 1955. He became a teenager during the Cultural Revolution, leaving school to work first on a farm and then in a cottonseed oil factory. He started writing while he was serving in the People's Liberation Army. His first short story was published in 1981. His works include Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, Red Sorghum, The Garlic Ballads, Big Breasts and Wide Hips, The Republic of Wine, and Sandalwood Death. He received the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature.
The farmers of Paradise County have been leading a hardscrabble life unchanged for generations. The Communist government has encouraged them to plant garlic, but selling the crop is not as simple as they believed. Warehouses fill up, taxes skyrocket, and government officials mistreat even those who have traveled for days to sell their harvest. A surplus on the garlic market ensues, and the farmers must watch as their crops wither and rot in the fields.
As this is going on, families are destroyed by the random imprisonment of young and old for supposed crimes against the state. The prisoners languish in horrifying conditions in their cells, with only their strength of character and thoughts of their loved ones to save them from madness. Meanwhile, a blind minstrel incites the masses to take the law into their own hands, and a riot escalates to savage and unforgettable consequences.
The Garlic Ballads is a powerful vision of life under the heel of an inflexible and uncaring government. Based on an uprising in rural China in 1987, this book is also a delicate story of love between man and woman, father and child, friend and friend—and the struggle to maintain that love despite overwhelming obstacles.
In 2012, the Nobel committee confirmed Mo Yan’s position as one of the greatest and most important writers of our time. In his much-anticipated new novel, Mo Yan chronicles the sweeping history of modern China through the lens of the nation’s controversial one-child policy.
Frog opens with a playwright nicknamed Tadpole who plans to write about his aunt. In her youth, Gugu—the beautiful daughter of a famous doctor and staunch Communist—is revered for her skill as a midwife. But when her lover defects, Gugu’s own loyalty to the Party is questioned. She decides to prove her allegiance by strictly enforcing the one-child policy, keeping tabs on the number of children in the village, and performing abortions on women as many as eight months pregnant.
In sharply personal prose, Mo Yan depicts a world of desperate families, illegal surrogates, forced abortions, and the guilt of those who must enforce the policy. At once illuminating and devastating, it shines a light into the heart of communist China.