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March 27, 2015 / 7 Nisan, 5775
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Hallucinatory Realism

Hallucinatory Realism

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 was awarded yesterday to Chinese writer Mo Yan “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.”

I liked that description very much. I went looking for texts by the fresh winner. Among several offerings online, not all of which would befit a frum website, I found the following paragraphs, from his most recent work, “POW!” which is soon to be published in English:

Huang Biao snared a pig’s knuckle and examined it. What was he looking for? It was soft and fully cooked, and would be overdone if he let it stew any longer. But he threw it back in, picked out a dog’s leg, and went through the same drill, but this time he sniffed it. What are you doing, you moron? It’s ready to eat, so turn down the heat before it turns mushy. Next came a sheep’s leg, and once again it was examine and smell. Why don’t you taste it, you moron? . . . Now that the heat had diminished, the liquid was no longer roiling, although a few ripples remained in the spaces between the cuts of meat, whose song had softened as they waited to be eaten.

But then the whole gritty, peasant cooking scene goes way out of bounds when Huang Biao ends up using his bodily fluids as cooking wine, which was just too gritty for me.

I suppose we keep looking for bigger and bigger shock effects. So you should know, Chinese peasant life is pretty shocking.

Anyway, when you now see references to Mo Yan’s brutal style, you’ll have an idea.

Way too much culture gap for me.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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