Thursday, August 31, 2006

I've just finished Stick out Your Tongue by Ma Jian (translated by Flora Drew). Fabulous. It's wafer thin -- the slenderest of volumes -- but it smacks you on the side of the head with its intensity. A "Han Chinese" wanders the high country of Tibet after a breakup. 5,000 meters (I live at 5,000 ft and think that's something), where the lack of oxygen can make you delerious. He chronicles his (and various characters') muted adventures and bizarre encounters with nomads who have the strangest, darkest stories to tell. Ma Jian lives in London -- publication of this book in the 80s got him in serious trouble with Chinese censors who reckoned Stick out Your Tongue wasn't tooting the horn of harmony clearly enough. There is a great deal of sex and death and peace flags flapping not so peacefully in the wind sweeping those endless plains and vast mountains. It will repay the hour or so it takes to read many times over. I'm sure of it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much agreement with your opinions on this collection, Laird. Small but powerful!

Dan Wickett - EWN

8:55 PM  
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