A benign old monk listens to a prospective novice’s tale of depravity, violence and carnivorous excess while a nice little family drama—in which nearly everyone dies—unfurls. But through this tale of sharp hatchets, bad water and a rusty Second World War–mortar, we can’t help but laugh. Reminiscent of the dark masters of European absurdism like Günter Grass, Witold Gombrowicz or Jakov Lind, Mo Yan’s Pow! is a comic masterpiece.
In this bizarre romp through the Chinese countryside, the author treats us to a cornucopia of cooked animal flesh—ostrich, camel, donkey, dog and cat as well as the more common varieties.
As his dual narratives merge and feather into one another, each informing and illuminating the other, Mo Yan probes the character and lifestyle of modern China. Displaying his many talents, as fabulist, storyteller, scatologist, master of allusion and cliché, Pow! carries the reader along quickly, hungrily and giddily, up until its surprising dénouement.
Mo Yan has been called one of the great novelists of modern Chinese literature and the New York Times Book Review has hailed his work as harsh and gritty, raunchy and funny. He writes big, sometimes mystifying, sometimes infuriating but always entertaining novels—and Pow! is no exception.