Monday, November 12, 2012

Mo Yan's "Red Sorghum"



These ancestors are larger than life. In their loves and infidelities, in their fight against the Japanese army, in their endurance of horrific tragedies, they are the stuff of legend. In the depiction of Northeast Gaomi Township, where these ancestors lived and fought, the novel brought a sense of place in the 1930's and 40's thrillingly to life. The red sorghum that surrounded the village became a potent metaphor for blood and passion. The bridge over Black Water River was the setting for unforgettable scenes of confrontation. It was a time when people were not only fighting off corpse-eating dogs but were dogs themselves. A milita dressed itself in dog pelts. Living under later Communist rule, the narrator, who records the heroism of his grandparents and parents and fellow villagers, is ashamed to be a mere rabbit. One who repeats the words and wishes of others, with no voice of his own.

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