Wolf Totem Paperback – 26 Mar 2009
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'Enlightening, poignant, mysterious - and a miracle' Literary Review 'A refreshingly new perspective on the Cultural Revolution ... harsh and beautiful' Times Literary Supplement '[A] naturalistic, gripping, and deeply affecting novel reminding us how badly we humans have managed our world. Highly recommended.' Library Journal
About the Author
Jiang Rong was born in Beijing in 1946. In 1967, he volunteered to join the first wave of intellectuals who moved to the countryside, and lived as a nomad on the outer edges of Inner Mongolia for 11 years. In 1978, he returned to Beijing, where he took a postgraduate degree in economics, and took a position as an economics professor at a Beijing university. He lives in Beijing with his wife, the renowned author and feminist critic Zhang Kangkang. Wolf Totem is his first novel.
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Top Customer Reviews
From the very first page I was hooked. Jiang Rong creates such a vivid and compelling narrative that I found myself similtaniously gripped with the story yet trying to slow down and savour every word, so beautiful was each sentence.
Wolf Totem is semi-autobiographical and Jiang's passion for the Mongolian grasslands shines through on every page. The description of the grasslands themselves, the wildlife, the lifestyle and survival was stunning. So few books make me believe that I am there at the actual place, but with this book I was there on horseback, hiding from wolves, fleeing for my life, braving blizzards and building campfires. I smiled, I cried, I hoped and I silently pleaded all within the space of an hour. I also fell in love with wild Mongolian wolves. To get to know them was a pleasure - they are clever, cunning, brave, brilliant and I loved following their story (from both sides - the good and the bad). The Little Wolf that was captured and raised by humans both endeared me and broke my heart.
While this book is most certainly a tale of the grasslands of the last 10,000 years and what happens when modern living creeps in, it is also a book about so much more. I can't praise this enough; I am sad that it has ended as I could have read on for another 500 pages. What a beautiful book, one I highly recommend and one I will be reading again and again.
Wolf Totem is based on the real-life experiences of its author, Jiang Rong, who volunteered to go to Inner Mongolia in 1969 at the heart of the Cultural Revolution. He spent the next 12 years living with, and learning from the nomadic natives of the region. During this time he witnessed the epic struggle between humans and wolves that lies at the heart of a perfectly balanced ecosystem, and preserved some of the world's finest grasslands; he also witnessed the arrival of the Han Chinese, outsiders like himself, and their guns and farming methods that were to destroy it. It is a fascinating picture of a war between nature and human civilisation, between ancient customs and modern culture.
Wolf Totem pays homage to a complex spiritual system of beliefs, of Tengger the God of the grasslands, and the reverence of the cunning and ferocity of the wolves. It speaks of the history of Genghis Khan's mighty Mongol empire, suggesting that this intricate relationship between humans and beasts, was one of mutual respect, mutual advancement, and mutual protection. And it is wolves that lie at the heart of the story, and Jiang Rong's reverence, terror and fascination with them.
This is by no means a story, so much as it is a thesis on a dying way of life.Read more ›
You'll never be able to herd livestock with a horse like that. I'm amazed it can stand up, let alone gallop.
This is madness.
Oh, all right then. The book is fabulous: by turns moving, impassioned, and fascinating. I'm going to be giving copies away as Christmas gifts. But I'll try to ensure that the recipients aren't upset by the mutant horse on the cover.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A little disappointed with the read. Still wondering why it was so well received in China but guess that one has to grow up in the 'system' to fully appreciate the naunces of the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
An interesting read, written by a Chinese person and translated by an American , this does show . It feels a bit instructional but is an insight into China of the period and the... Read morePublished 15 months ago by as2885
Truly an Amazing book that touches the soul, showing how cruel and devastating humanity can be to nature's delicate balance!Published on 26 Mar. 2014 by Mash
Out standing! And so interesting! Bringing you on the plains mountains and lake Ohlanbulag and teaching me so much about wolves and the lifestyle of the Mongulian peoplePublished on 13 Mar. 2014 by Juliana weber fourie
If you have any interest in China and it's culture then this book is a must. A story which takes you deep into late 20th Century Mongolia including the years of the Cultural... Read morePublished on 6 Mar. 2014 by Scott Ballantyne