Author(s): Mo Yan
In this novel by the 2012 Nobel Laureate in Literature, Mo Van, 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 Gunter 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 cliche, and more, POW! carries the reader along quickly, hungrily, and giddily, up until its surprising denouement.
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.
Mo Yan has published dozens of short stories and novels in Chinese. His other English-language works include The Garlic Ballads, The Republic of Wine, Shifu: You'll Do Anything for a Laugh, Big Breasts & Wide Hips, and Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out. Howard Goldblatt is research professor of Chinese at the University of Notre Dame. The founding editor of Modern Chinese Literature, he has contributed essays and articles to the Washington Post, the Times (UK), Time, World Literature Today, and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications.