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Big Breasts & Wide Hips: A Novel by Mo Yan
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Big Breasts & Wide Hips: A Novel

by Mo Yan

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218553,416 (3.62)1 / 15
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French (2)  English (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (5)
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Mo Yan tells a big, sprawling story covering 70 years or more. Most of the characters are from one family, but it is less a family saga than a portrait of the society in rural China that sweeps them along on waves of change in the second half of the 20th Century. Mo Yan is a fine writer, with a great eye for the telling detail, and does little vignettes that urge you to re-read them. But I would call this book somewhat undisciplined and, at the end, a little too long. Characters drop in and get killed off almost before you figure out where they fit. I’m glad I read the book, but I wish the author had benefited from some discussions with a good editor that might have tightened it up a bit. ( )
  Larxol | Sep 22, 2008 |
Not everything he writes gets translated, so a new Mo Yan novel is to be savored. To the point where I've owned this for a few years now and never read it. It just sat on the shelf, waiting. Waiting for a time when I could pick it up and read it slowly and fully enjoy it.

Now, it was a perfectly fine book. But not one of his best, leaving it a bit of a disappointment.

The story is of the Shangguan family, who live in Northeast Gaomi Country in Shandong Province (almost all of Mo Yan's works take place here).

Shangguan Jintong is the only boy in a family of 9 sisters. He's obsessed with breasts, particularly those of his mother-- he isn't fully weaned until around the age of 17. This novel tracks the family through the 20th century-- a pretty tumultuous time in Chinese history. Unlike most historical novels, history isn't a main character--it's just a small part of the background noise, with a few exceptions. Because of this, I'm wondering how much sense parts of it will make to people not acquainted in modern Chinese history. The section leading up to WWII and going through the success of the Communist Revolution is confusing at best. Now, it was confusing to those who lived through it, too, but...

According to the introduction, Mo Yan wanted to write a story feauturing strong female characters. Now, most of his work features strong female characters and, outside the character of Mother, I'm not entirely sure this one does. Many of the sisters are introduced and then disappear. Many are not well fleshed out and I wouldn't call all of them strong by any means.

Now, if this had been by anyone else besides Mo Yan, I'd be much more enthusiastic about it, but I expected more of him.

see all my reviews at www.tushuguan.blogspot.com ( )
  kidsilkhaze | Sep 25, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mo Yanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goldblatt, HowardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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From where he lay quietly on the brick-and-tamped-earth slepping platform, his kang, Pastor Malory saw a bright red beam of light shining down on the virgin Mary's pink breast and on the pudgy face of the bare-bottomed Blessed Infant in her arms.
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"In a country where men dominate, this epic novel is first and foremost about women. As the title implies, the female body serves as the book's most important image and metaphor. The protagonist, Mother, is born in 1900. Married at seventeen into the Shangguan family, she has nine children, none by her husband, who is sterile. The youngest is her only boy, the narrator of the book, a spoiled and ineffectual child who stands in stark contrast to his headstrong and forceful sisters. Mother, a survivor, is the quintessential strong woman, constantly risking her life to save the lives of several of her children and grandchildren as the political tides shift dramatically from year to year." "Each of the seven chapters recounts a different era, from the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 through the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911 and the early years of Sun Yat Sen's Republic, the Japanese invasion in the 1930s, the civil war, the Cultural Revolution, and the post-Mao years."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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