In this novel by the 2012 Nobel Laureate in Literature, Mo Yan, 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 in this tale of sharp hatchets, bad water, and a rusty WWII mortar, we can’t help but laugh. Reminiscent of the novels of 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, 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, and more, 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.
About Mo YanSee more books from this Author
Like many Mo Yan novels “Pow!” is difficult to warm to. There are few characters to admire; the novel’s heart is antic but also icy. Mr. Mo has also begun to go back to the well for some of the same imagery.Read Full Review of Pow! | See more reviews from NY Times
But while it's true that Pow! doesn't land any blows on the Chinese regime – keeping its fire firmly trained on oafish village leaders and corrupt town officials – what remains is still a rich, original and highly rewarding novel.Read Full Review of Pow! | See more reviews from Guardian
It’s not a vein of literature I particularly enjoy, and the moments of satirical inspiration do not outweigh the moments of tedium in Pow! — but the novel may well be of interest to scholars of comparative literature.Read Full Review of Pow! | See more reviews from National Post arts
An aggregated and normalized score based on 19 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes