China’s runaway bestseller and winner of the inaugural Man Asian Literary Prize—now a major motion picture
Published in China in 2004, Wolf Totem has sold millions of copies (along with millions more on the black market), outpacing everything except Mao’s Little Red Book. The novel draws on the author’s experience during the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s. Chen Zhen, a Beijing college student, volunteers to work in China’s remote Inner Mongolia region as part of a movement to modernize the countryside. As he admires the balanced lifestyle of the nomadic herdsmen there, he also grows fascinated by the fierce and otherworldly Mongolian wolf. But when government policies threaten the wolves’ extinction, he sees an unfolding ecological tragedy—and a parable for China’s explosive growth.
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Jiang Rong was born in Jiangsu, China, in 1946. In 1967, he volunteered to work in China’s Inner Mongolia region, where he lived and labored with the native nomads for the next eleven years. A growing fascination for the mythologies surrounding the wolves of the grasslands inspired him to learn all he could about them, and he adopted and raised an orphaned wolf cub. In 1978 he returned to Beijing and continued his education at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Jiang worked as an academic until his retirement in 2006.
Howard Goldblatt (translator) is the foremost translator of modern and contemporary Chinese literature in the West. He has published English translations of more than thirty novels and story collections by writers from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. He has also authored and edited half a dozen books on Chinese literature. He is currently a professor at the University of Notre Dame.
In this autobiographical novel set in the 1960s, the author leaves his life as an intellectual in Bejing and goes to the remote grasslands of Mongolia. There he becomes enthralled with the nomadic life and the synergies between the mongols and their environment, particularly the wolves with whom they share the grasslands. The long passages of exposition and description are handled adroitly by Jason Culp. Maintaining a strong, steady pace, he adopts the air of an interested observer who is at times surprised by what he sees and hears. He uses accents to draw out the contrast between the speech patterns and tonality of the Mongols, the students among them, and the Chinese who later come to drive the people into the modern world. J.E.M. © AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine
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