Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Booze Nation!

Mo Yan is my favorite author. I discovered this when I had to read Red Sorghum for a Chinese lit. class in school. I was only auditing the class and you know how these things go... I never finished the book for class, but I liked it so much that I read it over Christmas break.

His prose is so visceral in a way you rarely ever get, especially with Chinese lit. The smells and tastes and colors just permeate through everything.

Also, he always works with the same translator, Howard Goldblatt and it's obvious they have a really close working relationship, so the translation is faithful to Mo Yan's intent and artistry.

I'm suprised at Mo Yan's guts. I don't know HOW he gets away with publishing what he does, especially as one who works for the army! It's crazy.

Right now I'm reading his Republic of Wine. What I love is that Jiu Guo, the title of the book, is translated two different ways: Republic of Wine in the title, and Liquor Land in the actual text. I also like my own translation of Booze Nation. All are accurate.

jiu means alcohol and is modified to refer to a certain type of alcohol:
pu tang jiu is grape + alcohol= wine

guo mean country or nation (much to the fascination of my history advisor, the Chinese language does not really differentiate between these two concepts.)

Anyway, I'm not really far enough into the text to really comment on it besides that Mo Yan is AWESOME.

I thought I'd instead comment on a book of his that I read last year, in my continuing series of Books I read last year... (creative titling, I know)


Shifu, You'll Do Anything for a Laugh

Is a collection of short stories. The title story is a hilarious look at modern Chinese treatment of workers and lovers. I was very excited to read that the film Happy Times was an adaptation of this story, but was dissapointed. I really liked the film, but something kinda similair to the plot of the story occurs in the first 15 minutes of the film. The rest of the film is about something else entirely.

The collection also has a story that is a sequel of sorts to Red Sorghum, which was exciting.

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