November 26, 2012: “Bull” by Mo Yan
This piece is an excerpt from the translation of Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan’s forthcoming novel, Pow. I strongly recommend the piece and the Q&A with Howard Goldblatt, translator as a way of getting to know Mo Yan’s work. And the story is available for free.
This story is set in a village known for its butchers. A boy, the central character of the story, goes with his father to witness the butcher’s buying cattle from visiting brokers. The father is skilled at judging the weight of the cattle and is respected (and paid) for his talents. But a local butcher is jealous and tries to embarrass the father. The boy is humiliated by this. But then, the butcher’s bull rebels and only the boy’s father can save the day. (The story is also complicated by the fact that we know the father is going to run off with a woman and leave the boy and his mother to fend for themselves.)
It’s always hard to know what to do with excerpts, or how to interpret them. The value of this one is that if gives us a glimpse into Mo Yan’s work, but the “story” itself doesn’t do too much for me.
I’d love to see the book.