Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong
A Novel

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China's runaway bestseller and winner of the inaugural Man Asian Literary Prize

Published in China in 2004, Wolf Totem has broken all sales records, selling millions of copies (along with millions more on the black market). Part period epic, part fable for modern days, Wolf Totem depicts the dying culture of the Mongols--the ancestors of the Mongol hordes who at one time terrorized the world--and the parallel extinction of the animal they believe to be sacred: the fierce and otherworldly Mongolian wolf. Beautifully translated by Howard Goldblatt, the foremost translator of Chinese fiction, this extraordinary novel is finally available in English.

About Jiang Rong

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Jiang Rong was born in Jiangsu in 1946. His father's job saw the family move to Beijing in 1957, and Jiang entered the Central Academy of Fine Art in 1967. His education cut short by events in China, the twenty-one-year-old Jiang volunteered to work in Inner Mongolia's East Ujimqin Banner in 1967, where he lived and labored with the native nomads for the next eleven years of his life. He took with him two cases filled with Chinese translations of Western literary classics, and spent years immersed in personal studies of Mongolian history, culture, and tradition. A growing fascination for the mythologies surrounding the wolves of the grasslands inspired him to learn all he could about them and he adopted and raised an orphaned wolf cub. In 1978 he returned to Beijing, continuing his education at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences one year later. Jiang worked as an academic until his retirement in 2006. Wolf Totem is a fictional account of life in the 1970s that draws on Jiang's personal experience of the grasslands of China's border region.
Published March 27, 2008 by Penguin Books. 556 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Travel. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Wolf Totem

The New York Times

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Jiang Rong’s novel is set in the pristine grasslands of Inner Mongolia in the 1960s.

May 04 2008 | Read Full Review of Wolf Totem: A Novel

The Guardian

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Even wolves and humans are little life ...

Mar 21 2008 | Read Full Review of Wolf Totem: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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A publishing sensation in China, this novel wraps an ecological warning and political indictment around the story of Chen Zhen, a Beijing student sent during the 1960s Cultural Revolution to live a

Jan 21 2008 | Read Full Review of Wolf Totem: A Novel

BC Books

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"Wolf Totem" is a beautiful and heartbreaking story that everybody who cares about the state of the world should read.

Apr 04 2008 | Read Full Review of Wolf Totem: A Novel


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A captivating English translation of Jiang Rong's award-winning novel chronicles a Beijing student's immersion with nomadic farmers of the Mongolian grasslands just before China's Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and '70s. The story becomes a passionate eulogy to a ferocious and far-flung way lif...

Mar 26 2008 | Read Full Review of Wolf Totem: A Novel

AV Club

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A terrific semi-autobiographical action story comes burdened with polemic.

Apr 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Wolf Totem: A Novel

Asia Sentinel

This ‘farmers’ invasion’, along with their deliberate purging of the grassland wolves, entirely skewed the natural cycle that had gone on peacefully for centuries – a stinging reminder to the whole world that humans have been destroying the natural environment with their own hands.

Jun 18 2008 | Read Full Review of Wolf Totem: A Novel

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