WOLF TOTEM by Jiang Rong

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WOLF TOTEM by Jiang Rong

Post by Harry » Thu Apr 17, 2008 4:04 am

This is a novel drawing on the experiences of the author while living with a nomadic tribe in Inner Mongolia. The book probably paints the best “last look” at the lives of these people we will be privileged to know. He describes how they wove nature, religion and superstition together and worked within their beliefs and observations to maintain a healthy ecology. The Mongolian wolf is the center of their lives and of the book. Wolves are the top predators of the region and keep a balance between too many and too few grazers. Unfortunately, sheep and cattle are just grazers to a wolf and easy pickings to boot. The tribe knows the necessity of the wolf so it is hated and revered at the same time.

This book is not a page turner but it never drags. The author may have made it a novel in order to keep the action moving. The Chinese liked it at any rate. The translation from Chinese to English seems good to me, not that I would recognize much but a very bad translation.
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Re: WOLF TOTEM by Jiang Rong

Post by Armand50 » Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:48 am

The publisher of Wolf Totem says that this novel is an epic Chinese tale and that is true. My wife received an advanced copy requesting a blurb, and she didn't have time to read the novel, so I did and it kept my attention. The main reason I kept reading was because I have had an interest in the Mongols since I was a child. Wolf Totem taught me a lot about this almost extinct culture. The one new thing I learned was the fascinating connection between wolves and Mongols and why this connection may have been the reason why Genghis Khan was so successful in his conquests. I recommend this novel to anyone that wants to learn more about the life of the Mongols and another aspect of the Cultural Revolution (Both Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie Fiction Anchor Trade Paperback and Red Azalea : Berkley Trade Signature Edition by Anchee Min show different aspects too). However, the philosophy of maintaining a balance with nature is a bit overdone. I got the message the first time the characters talked about it but then the topic comes up over and over and over--a bit to much for my taste as I felt it got in the way of the story that was taking place between the main characters and the wolf pup they were attempting to raise. I won't give away the but don't expect it to be a happy. Most Chinese novels don't end with happy endings. The publisher also said that the novel was a stinging social commentary on the dangers of China's overaccelerated economic growth as well as a fascinating immersion into the heart of Chinese culture. That is also true of Wolf Totem.
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