WOLF TOTEM Jiang Rong
Wolf Totem is about the exploits of Chen Zhen, a
The novel progresses via episodes of hunting and herding, with a supporting cast of dogs and gazelles, not to mention a wolf cub. Though many of the episodes are fast-paced there’s no overall narrative flow, which can make for heavy going -- heightened by regrettable overstatement. Rong’s case is that the Chinese have much to learn from the Mongol’s fortitude and view of the environment as an intricate organism of cause and effect, something repeatedly affirmed.
The novel ends with a eulogy for a vanished land; the losers are the Chinese, thoughtlessly replacing older systems. Wolf Totem’s strengths are ethnographical: much of the novel is clearly the outcome of close observation. Would that it had been more succinct, though.