In Change, Mo Yan, the 2012 Nobel Laureate in Literature, personalizes the political and social changes in his country over the past few decades in this novella disguised as autobiography--or vice-versa. Unlike most historical narratives from China, which are pegged to political events, Change is a representative of people"s history, a bottom-up rather than top-down view of a country in flux. By moving back and forth in time and focusing on small events and everyday people, Mo Yan breathes life into history by describing the effects of larger-than-life events on the average citizen. Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition. If China has a Kafka, it may be Mo Yan. Like Kafka, Yan has the ability to examine his society through a variety of lenses, creating fanciful, Metamorphosis-like transformations or evoking the numbing bureaucracy and casual cruelty of modern governments.
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