The best books on China: start your reading here

From a previously banned novel about rural hardship to a collection of short stories exploring everyday lives: The Guardian

MDG : World Library : China

Best books on China: The Garlic Ballads by Mo Yan; A Thousand years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li; and Tiger Head Snake Tails by Jonathan Fenby

The Garlic Ballads by Mo Yan

Blood, sweat and tears – and the pungent smell of garlic – run through Mo’s gritty tale of penury and powerlessness in rural China.

The story, set in the late-1980s, is inspired by a real incident. Poor farmers in the ironically named Paradise County are encouraged by officials to plant garlic. But when a glut ensues, the corrupt officials, who have lined their pockets, refuse to buy any more of the crop and it is left to rot in the fields.

Facing ruin, the enraged farmers riot and burn down the county offices. Official retribution is swift and savage. The “revolt” is crushed, and the alleged ringleaders beaten and jailed.

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