The Garlic Ballads: A Novel

The Garlic Ballads: A Novel

Mo Yan, Howard Goldblatt

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 1611457076

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The farmers of Paradise County have been leading a hardscrabble life unchanged for generations. The Communist government has encouraged them to plant garlic, but selling the crop is not as simple as they believed. Warehouses fill up, taxes skyrocket, and government officials maltreat even those who have traveled for days to sell their harvest. A surplus on the garlic market ensues, and the farmers must watch in horror as their crops wither and rot in the fields. Families are destroyed by the random imprisonment of young and old for supposed crimes against the state.   

The prisoners languish in horrifying conditions in their cells, with only their strength of character and thoughts of their loved ones to save them from madness. Meanwhile, a blind minstrel incites the masses to take the law into their own hands, and a riot of apocalyptic proportions follows with savage and unforgettable consequences. The Garlic Ballads is a powerful vision of life under the heel of an inflexible and uncaring government. It is also a delicate story of love between man and woman, father and child, friend and friend—and the struggle to maintain that love despite overwhelming obstacles.

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armed guard. He spotted two small doors in the gray southern wall of the now-empty corridor, and wondered where the other prisoners were. “Number Nine,” the guard at the western station called to him, “through that door.” Doing as he was told, he emerged into the glorious outdoors, or, more exactly, an open-air cage around a concrete slab whose length corresponded to the corridor, but was some thirty feet wide and a good ten or fifteen feet high. Thick bluish steel ribs strung between

to her, the day I helped her bring in the harvest that her parents signed an agreement with Liu Shengli’s grandfather and Cao Wen’s parents, stringing three boys and three girls together like so many locusts, a chain with six links, a tawdry way to create new families. She doesn’t hate me; she likes me. When we meet, she lowers her head and scoots by, but I can see the tears in her eyes. My heart aches my liver aches my lungs ache my stomach aches my gut aches everything inside me aches…. ‘

hallway. On his way out the door, Gao Yang grabbed Fourth Aunt and yelled, “Run for your life!” Dense smoke swirling up and down the hallway indicated that more than one office had been torched. Everything was shaking—the ceiling above and the stairs below. People ran and clawed for their lives. As Gao Yang dragged Fourth Aunt out the entrance, he thought about the black and orange goldfish, but only for a fleeting moment, since with a thousand heads and twice that many legs fighting over

a corpse could earn you a tidy sum, while all he’d get for watching his condemned cellmate was an extra bun at mealtime. At this rate, he thought, I’ll be dead in a month. He could kick himself. Old man upstairs, get me out of here. If you do, I’ll never complain, never fight, never ask for help, even if someone dumps a load of shit on my head. CHAPTER 17 Townsfolk, hard work and sweat never hurt anyone. Dig wells, lug water, fight the drought: Watering the garlic makes it grow an

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