by Mo Yan

An epistolary narrative drives this meandering story about the affect of China's one child policy on a rural community. Though acts of brutality take place, they are tempered by episodes of black comedy. A challenging reading experience which surprised and shocked in unexpected ways.


Let her have the baby, Gugu, I said sadly. I no longer want my Party membership or my commission ...
She banged the table with her hand, sending water splashing over the sides of the glass in front of me.
What a misfit you are, Xiaopao! This isn't just about you. For three years the commune has not had a single case of exceeding the birth quota. Are you going to be the one to ruin our record?
But she's tried to kill herself more than once, I said with difficulty. What if she goes through with it?
With a cold look, she said, You know local policy where that's concerned? Don't hide the bottle if they want to take poison, give them a rope if they want to hang themselves.
Translated by Howard Goldblatt



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