The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian
A Novel

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From Ma Jian, the highly acclaimed Chinese dissident, comes a satirical novel about the absurdities of life in a post-Tiananmen China.

Two men meet for dinner each week. Over the course of one of these drunken evenings, the writer recounts the stories he would write, had he the courage: a young man buys an old kiln and opens a private crematorium, delighting in his ability to harass the corpses of police officers and Party secretaries, while swooning to banned Western music; a heartbroken actress performs a public suicide by stepping into the jaws of a wild tiger, watched nonchalantly by her ex-lover. Extraordinary characters inspire him, their lives pulled and pummeled by fate and politics, as if they are balls of dough in the hands of an all-powerful noodle maker.

Ma Jian's satirical masterpiece allows us a humorous, yet profound, glimpse of those struggling to survive under a system that dictates their every move.

About Ma Jian

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MA JIAN was born in Qingdao, China, in 1953. He worked as a watch-mender's apprentice, a painter of propaganda boards, and a photojournalist. In 1987 he wrote Stick Out Your Tongue, a collection of short stories that prompted the Chinese government to ban his future work. Ma Jian left Beijing for Hong Kong in 1987 as a dissident, but he continued to travel to China and supported the pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square in 1989. After the handover of Hong Kong, he moved to Germany and then London, where he now lives with his partner and translator, FLORA DREW. He is the author of Red Dust, a travel memoir, and the critically acclaimed novels The Noodle Maker and Beijing Coma.
Published April 4, 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 193 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The political satire here is equaled in potency by a pervasive disgust with the body, expressed by some characters (the actress complains of “slimy male fluids”) but merely endured in silence by others (a wretched young textile worker, mistress of the editor).

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Publishers Weekly

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The interlocked stories that make up this work spill out over a Sunday night dinner between two argumentative old friends: Sheng, a blocked writer just one propagandist novel away from an entry in The Great Dictionary of Chinese Writers , and Vlazerim, a wealthy professional blood donor.

Nov 22 2004 | Read Full Review of The Noodle Maker: A Novel

London Review of Books

The writer is depressed by his commission from the Party – a novel about a selfless soldier who is dedicated to the Communist cause – even though writing the book will give him the chance to be included in The Great Dictionary of Chinese Writers.

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