Stick out your tongue by Ma Jian
Translator – Flora drew
I m so pleased I picked this up at the library long have I struggled to get a foot in on chinese fiction ,I ve a few books on my shelf but have read first few pages of them and not be gripped so have been on the look out for something short to get my juices following for Chinese books , but I saw this Ma Jian’s debut collection published in 1987 and in English in 2006 which is only 89 pages long and thought I ll read this in an evening . I didread it in a evening , but also found a chinese writer I love, as well ,and was pleased to be told on twitter when I said I d read it , he has other books out already .well stick your tongue out is a collection of five short stories ,as normal I ll mention only one of these thus leaving the others for you to find for your self .I ve chosen The smile of lake Drolmula we meet Sonam ,he is a Tibetan nomad that has left his nomadic family to live in the city ,but is returning to find his family , we meet him as he stops by the beautiful lake Dromula ,as he does he images how the people in his family have grown in his time away from them ,also little bits on what he remembers his family being like a certain apron ,this piece is full of the natural beauty but also the hard life of a nomad at the same time ,also how familes can easily drift apart ,as he progresses he finds his family hard to track down .
The black horse must have delivered my sack to the tent by now ,he thought to himself .In a daze ,he found himself walking back to his family’s tent .The sheepdog Pemu ran up to him and rubbed its head against the zip of his trousers .
Does he make it or is it just imagined ?
This collection was longlisted for the independent foreign fiction long list in 2007 .The stories all set in Tibet portray a place of wide open spaces and beauty, but also people struggling to survived under communism and the harshness of the landscape ,but also the characters in the stories seem to be loners and outsiders almost looking for answers at times son and a writer among them . Ma Jian lives in exile in London with his partner Flora Drew the translator of the book ,his books are banned in China due to their content .Ma Jian is also banned from china since this year .If like me you want a door into Chinese fiction I remember someone on the book show from ABc saying that Chinese fiction would be one the rising star of the 21st century literature . This may be the book for you ,the translation is wonderful from the Han original as you would expect as she is his partner .
Have you a favourite chinese book ?
Have you read Ma Jian ?