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Sandalwood Death: A Novel (Chinese Literature Today Book Series) Paperback – November 15, 2012
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About the Author
Mo Yan (literally, “don’t speak”) is the pen name of Guan Moye. Born in 1955 in Gaomi, Shandong province, he is the author of ten novels and more than seventy short stories. Mo Yan is the winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature and the 2009 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature.
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Top Customer Reviews
To be certain, it is remarkable in its focused descriptiveness of rural China during the late years of the Qing Dynasty. Going far beyond the physicality of day to day life, Mo Yan's chronicling delves intensively into the individual subjectivity of those destined to live it. Passions are as profound as obeisance can be grandly superficial.
I also believe that a prospective reader would better appreciate the book if he/she were, at the very least, *somewhat* familiar with Chinese history during this period. A slightly more than cursory Wiki search would be helpful. Better yet would be prior interest in one of humankind's most fascinating cultures. Then again, this book is not for everyone.
And for the first three quarters of the book I found it to be very gripping and compelling. The history has been somewhat altered to fit the story, but that is to be expected. (And as an aside, you do not really have to know much more about Chinese history other than that there have been numerous popular uprising throughout the last two thousand years of Chinese history, including the Yellow Turbans, Red Eyebrows, Taipings, etc., as well as the Brotherhood of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist, more commonly known as the Boxers, depicted here. And that many of them have been inspired by semi-religious semi-mythical leaders leading an unlettered rabble and yet coming perilously close to actually overthrowing the established authority). But the depictions of late nineteenth century village life in rural China are both vivid and believable, and the characters (with the exception of the Germans) both well rounded and engaging. As I read through these first three hundred pages or so I kept telling myself that this guy really did deserve the Nobel Prize.
But then to my great disappointment, over the last hundred pages the book fell flat. Now I'm not a blood and guts guy. In general, I would rather avoid reading detailed descriptions of pain and suffering. But in this case it was necessary. Oh, I understand what the author was attempting to do.Read more ›
This took me 3 weeks to complete (compared to less than a week) given i am a lover of chinese history. The way it is translated made it hard for to comprehend and easy to "give up" after a few chapters.
Well, it is not that Mr Howard Goldblatt is not a good translator but the complexities of the story with its deep county culture make it not easy. In the end, I have to buy Mo Yan's Chinese version of the same title to fully appreciate the beauty of the Gaomi county and what the author's association the cruel Chinese punishment methods with the nuance of the opera.
I gave it 4 stars because the credit I want to give to Mr Goldblatt for the tough assignment he undertook for a lot of Mo Yan's readers to read his works. I read many of Mo's books in English and I must thank Mr Goldblatt for all the fantastic translation.
This is not a book that is easy to read but if you are up to challenge and a great Mo Yan's fan, I don't think you should skip.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very INTERESTING in regard to China's history and way of life. Harsh realities, downtrodden masses, political corruption abounds. Amidst all, a love story proceeds. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Lana D
Nobel prize for Literature yes but to read this Mo Yan novel you need to be given a penance for your sins of the past. What is it about the oriental love of suffering!Published 17 months ago by Robin Courtney
Reminded me that nothing has changed regarding hierarchical ways of China today. Elegant way of describing the country from yesterday to today.Published on November 17, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Mo Yan's imagery reaches into your gut and twists, but the his characters make you enjoy every moment. Highly recommend!Published on March 31, 2013 by Chris Hagen
Told in alternating chapters, the narrator skillfully weaves together a portrait of a culture different from that of the west, and it is a tribute to Mo Yan's narrative skill that... Read morePublished on February 18, 2013 by Joseph Walsh
Some interesting writing, but rambles on... Not something I would recommend, I am having a very hard time developing any sympathy for the first character.Published on January 21, 2013 by Acacia Cheuvront