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Mo Yan's "Frog"

Thanks to Paper Republic for pointing out this early English-language review of Frog, Mo Yan’s latest novel.

The author of many novels, including Red Sorghum and The Republic of Wine, Mo Yan is one of the lucky Chinese writers who has been published in English translation, and it’s likely Frog will make it’s way over here as well. (According to the Global Times article, Mo Yan is one of China’s “hottest” writers, with “the most potential to one day take home the Nobel Prize in Literature,” which means that he’ll never actually win the Nobel Prize. Just ask Philip Roth.) It’ll be interesting to see how readers and reviewers respond to this novel, which centers around a rather touchy subject:

The novel, 10 years in the making and revised three times, presents a unique perspective on life on the grasslands over the past 60 years from the perspective of a local female doctor who specialized in child birth.

Before the family planning policy was adopted, Mo’s aunt, referred to in Frog simply as Gu Gu (“aunt” in Chinese), was once considered a godsend who helped deliver little miracles to local families. After the family planning policy was adopted, she transformed into the image of a devil who enforced abortive methods for women pregnant with a second child. [. . .]

“The family planning policy is a basic condition of China dealing with the most conservative element of traditional culture. It touches the sorest points and most delicate parts of the souls of thousands of millions of Chinese people,” [Mo] added.

China’s family planning policy has long been a topic that writers have dared not touch upon and few literary works have dealt with the subject.

Beyond the content, the form of the book sounds pretty interesting:

The novel is written in an epistolary style, comprising of five parts of four letters and a play, with the latter part focusing on Gu Gu’s confessions of the heart.

I love when novels include a play (see: Mulligan Stew, This Side of Paradise, Ulysses), and there really should be a term — “dramacore”? — to identify books that embed drama in their fiction . . .



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