by Mo Yan
Frog is a richly complex new novel about China's one-child policy by Mo Yan, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2012.
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. "Mo Yan deserves a place in world literature. His voice will find its way into the heart of the reader, just as Kundera and Garcia Marquez have." (Amy Tan). "One of China's leading writers...his work rings with refreshing authenticity. " (Time). "His idiom has the spiralling invention of much world literature of a high order, from Vargas Llosa to Rushdie." (Observer).
Translated by Howard Goldblatt.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 400 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 02/07/2015
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780241967324
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Review by starbox
Frogs, babies and family planning, 9 April 2015This 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.