These last months, Mo Yan has been on the top of the news: the French publication of “Frogs” (1) followed a few days later by the award to this novel of the Mao Dun Prize (shared with four other writers) but a prize of 50,000 euros each.
Recently was published a collection of short stories with the evocative title: “The beauty riding a donkey on Chang’an Avenue” (2) with a book cover supposed to catch the eye. Cover totally not in line as some texts remind us of Pu Songling (1640-1715), one of the favorite authors for Mo Yan, a native of Shandong as himself. A writer, beautifully supported by Philippe Picquier, in a publication in 2005 of two volumes of ” Strange stories from a Chinese studio” translated by André Levy.
The first two short stories, “The beauty riding a donkey …” and especially “The woman with flowers,” describe men fascinated by the beauty of women, a strange beauty, magic, supernatural … or women as vixens as in the “Strange stories from a Chinese studio”.
The other two stories, “The fight in the poplar forest” and especially “The handcuffs,” are in the style of the short stories by Mo Yan, who, through the eyes of a child, underlines injustice and cowardice of the adult world.
“The handcuffs,” a harsh text, is in line with an excellent collection of short stories, “The iron child” (3) which includes sixteen stories selected by Mo Yan as the most representative of his work.
Both books show the great diversity and talent of the author. We must add that some short stories have been published separately, as “The Master has more and more humor” (4) and a collection published in the United States “Shifu, you’ll do anything for a laugh” (english title of the story “The master has more and more humor”) that includes several masterpieces: “The abandoned baby”, ” The Iron Child ” …
One regret, we would like short stories by Mo Yan about the current younger generation living in towns. This generation has not yet produced leading writers and Mo Yan says he does not understand it …
(1) Mo Yan “Frogs”, translated by Chantal Chen-Andro, Le Seuil. August 2011, 410 pages, 22 euros.
(2) Mo Yan “The beauty riding a donkey on Chang’an Avenue, translated by Marie Laureillard, P. Picquier, 2011, 16 euros.
(3) Mo Yan, ” The Iron Child”, translated by Chantal Chen-Andro, Le Seuil, 2004, 315 pages.
(4) Mo Yan, “The master has more and more humor,” translated by Noel Dutrait, Le Seuil, 2006.
(5) Mo Yan: “Shifu, you’ll do anything for a laugh”, translated by Howard Goldblatt, Arcade Publishing, 2003.