Sandalwood Death and Pow! make the top of the New York Times’s “Editors’ Choice” book list: “Abuse of power, gross materialism, corruption and venality are the targets of the Chinese Nobelist’s satirical novels.”
Yiyun Li reviews Pow!: “Perhaps this is a way to stay away from politics: to be a fabulist, but not to be taken so seriously.”
Ian Buruma of the New York Times reviews Pow! and Sandalwood Death: “By concentrating on human appetites, including the darkest ones, Mo Yan can dig deeper than political commentary. And like the strolling players of old, the jesters and the public-square storytellers he so admires, Mo Yan is able to give a surprisingly accurate impression of his country. Distorted, to be sure, but sharply truthful, too. In this sense, his work fits into a distinguished tradition of fantasists in authoritarian societies: alongside Mikhail Bulgakov or the Czech master, Bohumil Hrabal.”
Chad Post talks to Tom Roberge in the first 3% Podcast of 2013 about Pow! and Sandalwood Death and the wrongness of how Mo Yan has been pitched for his cultural significance rather than his literary significance. Roberge asks, “What are you selling? Are you selling the book or are you selling the fact that it’s different, and a novel about China?”
Charles Laughlin speaks on “Mo Yan’s Nobel Prize: Resetting Chinese Literature” at University of Iowa.