January 31, 2014 by Reader's Connection
Happy Chinese New Year! Friday, January 31st marks the beginning of the Year of the Horse.
We begin our celebration with a Chinese review (by Xiaolin Lin of the Lawrence Library) of a Chinese book. Lin also gives us an English review, to go with our English translation.
Then we’ll move on to some horsy material from me.
|Big Breasts and Wide Hips by Mo Yan
Call number: FIC MO
Mo Yan, a Chinese author, received the Nobel Prize in Literature on October 11, 2012, for his incorporation of hallucinatory realism into Chinese folk tales, history and contemporary life. He became the first Chinese author to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.The novel “Big Breasts and Wide Hips” is regarded as one of Mo Yan’s masterpieces. Its popularity is partially due to its controversial theme. This novel portrays a heroic mother, and is believed to be the most well thought-out novel by Mo Yan, depicting the rich and diverse Chinese history from the Sino-Japanese War to the aftermath of the Chinese Economic Reform. The mother in the novel has a son named Jintong Shangguan with a swede Pastor Malory. She later gives birth to Jintong’s half-sisters, who are associated with the senior authority and civil forces in 20th century China. The ups and downs of this family reflect the changes of Chinese politics during this period. The novel expressed the author’s love, sympathy and praise for women.
And now, in honor of this year’s Chinese zodiac animal:
I don’t care about horse-racing. I don’t quite approve of it. The only visit I remember ever making to a racetrack was in the summer of 1976, to see the rock group The Band in what turned out to be their last tour.
But Jane Smiley’s novel Horse Heaven is a glorious immersion in the world of horse owners, trainers, assistant trainers, grooms, jockeys, gambling junkies. There’s a vet of great honor and wisdom, and a nasty, crooked vet. And there are fillies, mares, stallions, studs, geldings and ponies.
The story–fueled by Smiley’s love of horses and her fascination with the racing world in all its excess–gallops around the country, jumping the Atlantic on occasion, and I made much use of the geographical list of characters in the opening pages.
I love the book. And not only that: It may be embarrassing for some readers to admit to “loving” fictional human characters from books, so imagine my embarrassment when confessing my feelings about a fictional horse.
I love Justa Bob.
While I’m horsing around I might as well link to a review that I wrote in 2012 of Alyson Hagy’s novel Boleto. The review is a little dopey, but it reminds of what I liked about the book, and of how I was moved by its resolution.
And here’s a link to James Galvin’s poem “Two Sketches of Horses”.
Happy New Year!
May you have an auspicious Year of the Horse!