Other PRC novels

Other PRC novels from this period harken back even further in time to the pre-Communist period, producing legendary portrayals with accents of Latin American “magical realism.” The army writer Mo Yen’s (1956–) Hung kaoliang chia-tsu (Red Sorghum Clan; 1986) celebrates a sort of heroic rural primitivism. To many readers, this seemed a welcome departure from decades of repetitious official condemnation of “backwardness” and “feudalism,” vague code words for various disagreeable patriarchal and autocratic features of traditional Chinese culture. While a schoolboy in the remote Shantung county of Kao-mi, Mo Yen thrilled to village elders’ lively oral accounts of old-time bandits and guerrilla resistance to Japanese invaders of the 1930s and 1940s. Many years later, after he had successfully used a long stint in the army to escape a life of obscurity in the countryside, the “magical realism” of Gabriel Garcia Marquez inspired Mo Yen to throw restraint to the winds in his writing and let his imagination aggressively reshape the oral accounts contained within his memory. The young writer now determinedly emphasized lyricism at the expense of clarity and plausibility, insistently blurred distinctions between dream and actuality, and repeatedly turned aside from the ordinary and typical in life to focus on human behavior in extremis.