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Spanning three generations, this novel of family and myth is told through a series of flashbacks that depict events of staggering horror set against a landscape of gemlike beauty as the Chinese battle both the Japanese invaders and each other in the turbulent 1930s.
As the novel opens, a group of villagers, led by Commander Yu, the narrator's grandfather, prepare to attack the advancing Japanese. Yu sends his 14-year-old son back home to get food for his men; but as Yu's wife returns through the sorghum fields with the food, the Japanese start firing and she is killed.
Her death becomes the thread that links the past to the present and the narrator moves back and forth recording the war's progress, the fighting between the Chinese warlords and his family's history.
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"Mo Yan deserves a place in world literature. His voice will find its way into the heart of the reader, just as Kundera and Garcia Marquez have." (Amy Tan)
"His idiom has the spiralling invention and mytho-maniacal quality of much world literature of a high order, from Vargas Llosa to Rushdie." (Observer)
"Brilliant, lyrical and intoxicating." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"One of China's leading writers... Mo Yan stands out in China's literary scene. His work rings with refreshing authenticity." (Time)
"A real heir to Lu Xun, a fine Chinese writer deeply concerned with the gate of his fellow men." (Times Literary Supplement)
‘Deserves a place in world literature. His voice will find its way into the heart of the reader, just as Kundera and Garcia Marquez have . . . His imagery is astounding , sensual and visceral. His story is electrifying and epic. It is unlike anything that I’ve read coming out of China in past or recent times' Amy Tan
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