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Wa by Yan Mo

Wa (edition 2009)

by Yan Mo

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1521278,635 (3.63)4
Authors:Yan Mo
Info:Taibei Shi : Mai tian chu ban, 2009.
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Frog: A Novel by Mo Yan


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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I finished this book a while back, and I feel badly that I didn't review it right away. For a westerner, it puts a personal face on (at least one author's perspective of) life in China throughout the 20th century, and all of the double-speak and about-faces that were required of regular folks just trying to live out their lives as policies changed. Of course we in the west have our own double-speaks and about-faces during that century as well. It did make me hungry to read more Chinese authors, and in particular I'll be looking for more of Mo Yan.

*** I received my copy of this book for free through Goodreads First Reads (but I promise that did not influence my thoughts on this book). ( )
  Phyllis.Mann | Jul 13, 2015 |
Confusing. Lady works for Communist party in China sterilizing and doing late term abortions. In the end did Lilttle Lion really have a baby or was it the child of the serogate? Book ends with play about their lives written by Little Lion's husband.
  susanmhills | Jul 10, 2015 |
Frogs, babies and family planning, 9 April 2015

This review is from: Frog (Hardcover)
A powerful work, bringing to life the ramifications of China's 'One Child Policy'; when Gugu, a modern, no-nonsense midwife in a rural township, finds her life in tatters - both emotionally and politically - after her pilot lover absconds - she devotes herself to her work. Only now, the priority is to enforce China's family planning laws. Narrated by her nephew, we follow this apparently cold, hard woman, and her devoted assistant, Little Lion, as they pursue the 'illegally pregnant' ...
The words for baby and frog are the same in Chinese; the nephew's nickname is 'Tadpole' and there are many references to frogs throughout the text. The years roll by and a modern and more capitalist regime succeeds the old, a world where anything is possible if you pay. And a local entrepreneur opens a bullfrog-breeding farm, which offers a whole different side to baby-making....
After giving up on Mo Yan's 'Red Sorghum', I found this quite a compulsive read. ( )
  starbox | Apr 9, 2015 |
Free ARC from publisher through Goodreads First Reads program.

I liked this novel about a Chinese midwife who is caught up in China's population control policies. Gugu not only delivers babies, she must provide birth control information, insert IUDs, and perform abortions. The major part of the novel is told by her grand-nephew in a series of long letters. The final portion is a play based on Gugu's life. I found the play section tedious and really a slog to read.

Although the subject matter is serious and the characters struggle with difficult moral choices and tragedies, there is a warmth, humor, and sympathy in the narration. Definitely worth reading. ( )
  seeword | Feb 17, 2015 |
The narrator in Chinese Nobel laureate Mo Yan's most recent novel to be translated into English is named “Tadpole,” and he wishes to write a play about his aunt, Gugu. In Frog (Viking Adult, $27.95), Gugu, who is 70 when the story begins, survives the Japanese occupation, trains as a midwife, becomes a member of the Communist Party, suffers through the great famine, is jilted by a fiancé who defects—and endangers her position in so doing. She later embraces the “one-child” policy, and is transformed from the much-honored midwife to the hated government abortion provider. As Yan portrays the suffering of the people, there is also a—perhaps too subtle for some—criticism of the state that is the source of so much of the suffering. More than anything, Frog complicates things for Mo Yan; he's neither completely a “party hack,” nor is he a harsh critic of the state.

Review in Sacramento News & Review: http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/ambivalent-amphibian/content?oid=16210661 ( )
  KelMunger | Feb 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Nobel literature laureate Mo Yan, one of the most popular and prolific authors in China, is possibly still best known overseas for his 1987 novel Red Sorghum, and even then mostly for the lavish film of the book which launched the careers of director Zhang Yimou and actress Gong Li.

Nobel winners may subsequently see their even their marginalia reach publication in multiple languages, and their shopping lists become the subject of academic theses. But while Frog first appeared in Chinese three years before Mr. Mo’s 2012 win, its recent arrival in English is no mere exploitation of prize-enhanced international marketability. The novel is a full-length major work with big ideas, and it deals with a highly sensitive topic.

Mo Yan (“no words” or “don’t speak”) is the pen name of Guan Moye, and Frog is set in his favourite location, a fictionalised version of his birthplace in rural Shandong Province. The narrator’s Aunt Gugu, politically perfect daughter of a communist doctor who died in World War Two, trains as her area's first modern midwife, earns respect and admiration for her no-nonsense delivery skills, and is glamorously affianced to a fighter pilot.

He defects to Taiwan, taking his plane and all her political capital with him and as a result she suffers persecution and physical abuse during the Cultural Revolution for her inadvertent connection with the Communist Party’s enemies. Yet her faith in the Party never wavers. She becomes a tough enforcer of its authority, and in particular of its one child policy.

China’s successful modern literature is rarely short on blood, bile, and sudden death, featuring the whiff of the public toilet, the blare of the truck horn, and the brilliance of blood in the gutter after unexpected violence. Mo Yan also gives the reader no quarter. Young mothers die undergoing last-minute abortions at Gugu’s hands, serial fathers are rounded up for compulsory vasectomies, and the neighbours of recalcitrant repeat parents are threatened with the destruction of their property unless they join in persuading heavily pregnant women out of hiding.


But as critics both inside and outside China point out, Mr. Mo is now much closer to the government. He holds the post of Vice President of the officially approved Chinese Writers Association and has spoken out publicly in favour of censorship. In 2012 he contributed his own calligraphy to a commemorative edition of Mao’s 1942 Yan’an Talks on Literature and Art, which promoted the Leninist line that authors should write in the language of the working class and solely to promote the aims of the revolution. There are few documents more reviled by Chinese artists, especially at a time when current President Xi Jinping is reviving the same approach.


The book is no easy read. But regardless of his politics, admirers of Mr. Mo’s earlier literary offspring are likely to be equally joyful he brought this one to term.
added by peternh | editThe Wall Street Journal, Peter Neville-Hadley (pay site) (Mar 19, 2015)
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Sensei, an old custom in my hometown dictates that a newborn child is given the name of a body part or organ.
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Gugu is beautiful, charismatic and of an unimpeachable political background. A respected midwife, she combines modern medical knowledge with a healer's touch to save the lives of village women and their babies. After a disastrous love affair with a defector leaves Gugu reeling, she throws herself zealously into enforcing China's draconian new family-planning policy by any means necessary, be it forced sterilizations or late-term abortions. tragically her blind devotion to the Party line spares no one: not her own family, not even herself. Once beloved, Gugu becomes the living incarnation of a reviled social policy violently at odds with deeply rooted social values. Spanning the pre-revolutionary era and the country's modern day consumer society, mo Yan's taut and engrossing examination of Chinese life will be read for generations to come.
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