I needed this.
More unrestrained than Kawabata. Less brutal than Mo Yan. The voice is folkloric, the storytelling all over the place but always entertaining. With beautiful language, Gao depicts a China in transition, whose government and people are full of contradictions, but also resonant with long-standing traditions, suffused with the aura of millennia. It oozes history without secreting it. Deserving of the Nobel prize in the same sense that Mo Yan is, Gao gives us something unique, a hodgepodge novel that immerses the reader in the sensual and political climate of an era of China, and yet feels universal, important, profound. It does not force complex plots and characters through arcs and sinusoidal developments, it simply weaves a fabric of fictive reality. Xingjian’s brush is delicate, yet forceful. A fully realized mingling of experimental and traditional forms. As another reviewer said, Pynchon for the Chinese reader. I will probably obtain and read his other translated works.