Nobel Laureate Mo Yan’s The Garlic Ballads: Saga of Suffering and Solitude
(The Swedish Academy has unanimously chosen Mo Yan to be the Nobel Laureate in Literature for the year 2012. With more Chinese writers like Mo, the world could learn a more real China. The country faces a yawning gap between the rich and the poor, worsening environment pollution and an aging population. Paying more attention to such issues, Chinese writers may create more works that record the nation's journey to rejuvenation.The Garlic Ballads is a representative novel of Mo Yan. seems to have gained prominence no less than Marquez’s 100 years of Solitude.)
The Garlic Ballads which is one of the eleven novels of Mo Yan can without exaggeration be called the Chinese equivalent of The Sound and the Fury or something more. Mo who is the Chinese Dickens cuts rapidly between locations and times, but never too rapidly, striking a perfect balance between forwarding the plot and drawing back to offer perspective on the goings on. In this novel, there is clearly an imbalance of power, and the exploitation of the poor and the powerless by the connected and wealthy, but the oppressed are hardly saints. They are, instead, people with their own shortcomings and prejudices, and by understanding that, Mo Yan shows the true power of an artist--rather than stoop for the easy message, he dives into the actuality of his characters to make them empathic and flawed, and allow us to root for them and cringe when we realize that they simply don't have the wisdom to always act correctly. When it comes to the plight of the farmer and the destitute, Mo Yan has experience in spades. The Garlic Ballads tells the tale of a group of Chinese peasants whose lives are dependent upon selling their garlic crop; when harvests exceed governmental estimates, officials curb the amount of garlic that can be brought to market, setting off a violent chain of events. Against this backdrop, Mo weaves...
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