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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over, soaking the white tablecloth with the rust-colored liquid, some of which dripped to the floor. “What … what do you think you’re doing?” the aghast judge shouted. “Clerk, make sure you take down every word!” Dont say any more, young fellow, Gao Yang prayed silently. A light flashed in his head. Now he remembered: this was the young officer who was helping his father irrigate his corn that night Fourth Uncle was killed. “What I want to say is this,” the young officer continued. “The people

bit, he gazed at the green gate; like the opening of a crack in a paste head, his consciousness returned slowly. Something warm and wet slithered into his nasal cavities, then continued down his face. He tried but couldn’t hold it back; whatever it was spurted out of his nostrils and entered his mouth. It had a salty, rank taste; and when he lowered his head, he watched the bright red liquid drip onto the pale cement steps. 4. Gao Ma lay dazed on his kang, with no idea how long he had been

disturbed a hornets’ nest hanging from the sorghum-stalk covering. With hundreds of agitated hornets descending on him like a yellow cloud, he flattened out in the muck, afraid to move. But, reminded that the police were right on his heels, he wrapped his arms around his head, wriggled back outside, grabbed the enclosure fence, and leapt over it, landing behind a woodpile. He quickly rolled out into the yard, jumped to his feet, and turned to head east, when someone grabbed him by the arm and

collapsed wearily onto a heap of small, bloody corpses, as the surviving parakeets circled above, screeching piteously, the fight taken out of them. Hoofbeats sounded in the lane. Summoning up what little energy he had left, Gao Ma gripped his saber tighdy and stood up, just in time to see his beloved chestnut colt poke its head over the broken wall. It seemed thinner; its eyes, larger now, and filled with compassion, were fixed on him. Tears gushed from his eyes: “Dearest … don’t leave me,

behind them. Troubled by feelings of emptiness, Fourth Aunt turned to take a last look inside, where she saw a group of administrative types stream into the yard as if popping out of the ground, to gather around Deputy Yang; there were sneers and grins on their faces, Deputy Yang’s included. The passage of Fourth Uncle’s corpse attracted far less attention than it had on the way over, when anyone who could walk fell in behind the grisly procession. Now the cortege comprised only a few yapping

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