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The Garlic Ballads
Cover of The Garlic Ballads
The Garlic Ballads
A Novel
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The farmers of Paradise County have been leading a hardscrabble life unchanged for generations. The Communist government has encouraged them to plant garlic, but selling the crop is not as simple as...
The farmers of Paradise County have been leading a hardscrabble life unchanged for generations. The Communist government has encouraged them to plant garlic, but selling the crop is not as simple as...
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  • The farmers of Paradise County have been leading a hardscrabble life unchanged for generations. The Communist government has encouraged them to plant garlic, but selling the crop is not as simple as they believed. Warehouses fill up, taxes skyrocket, and government officials maltreat even those who have traveled for days to sell their harvest. A surplus on the garlic market ensues, and the farmers must watch in horror as their crops wither and rot in the fields. Families are destroyed by the random imprisonment of young and old for supposed crimes against the state.

    The prisoners languish in horrifying conditions in their cells, with only their strength of character and thoughts of their loved ones to save them from madness. Meanwhile, a blind minstrel incites the masses to take the law into their own hands, and a riot of apocalyptic proportions follows with savage and unforgettable consequences. The Garlic Ballads is a powerful vision of life under the heel of an inflexible and uncaring government. It is also a delicate story of love between man and woman, father and child, friend and friend—and the struggle to maintain that love despite overwhelming obstacles.

 

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 1, 1995
    Through this powerful, fiercely lyrical story of a Chinese garlic farmer's 1988 revolt, Mo Yan (Red Sorghum) uncompromisingly portrays the harsh realities of an existence difficult to comprehend. Garlic farmer Gao Ma aches with love for Fang Jinju, whose parents are using her as a pawn in an arranged marriage. Defying her two thuggish brothers and her father, who in the past has savagely beaten her, Jinju, pregnant with Gao Ma's child, runs away with him but meets a tragic end. The grief-stricken farmer is thrown in jail for his alleged role as ringleader of a farmer's riot-an angry mob has destroyed a government building to protest a county official's refusal to buy the garlic crop amid a surfeit. Gao Ma's fate is entwined with that of another imprisoned protestor, Gao Yang, who preserves his sanity through the love of his wife and blind 10-year-old daughter. Mo Yan fuses gritty realism, stunning imagery, acid satire, bawdiness, dream sequences, interior monologues, and flashbacks to the Cultural Revolution. His luminous prose lays bare the corrupt bureaucracy, grinding poverty and pervasive oppression borne by millions of inhabitants in the People's Republic.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 1, 1996
    Banned in his native China, Yan's novel centers on a revolt among garlic farmers who are unable to sell their crop during a surfeit.

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    Arcade
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Mo Yan
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