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The imperative to pick this one up was an article that I read in a Saturday Review section of The Guardian, where it was listed as one of the school reading books on the list of the Eton head of English - well, if its good enough for them, its worth a look for me.
As in the past, one of the most satisfying parts, if not the most satisfying, is the discovery of new voices in the most unexpected of places. And this saga certainly fits that bill.
Its a simple, complex tale where the progress of life under the Mao marching cosmos is contrasted against Tengri-observing herding population of Inner Mongolia. Inevitably, there are continual references to the underlying ways and rhythms - but Big Life and Little Life are beautifully sketched out and the metaphor of the Wolf is worked but not over-worked.
This is a long book which needs continued attention (lots of prep!) but there is no effort to sustain attention since it is well written in translation. I was thankful for the recommendation - privileges flow from those who are prepared to work for their education, a universal principle as much at home in super-charged China as on the playing fields of Eton.
Really sad that in the name of development we are destroying the land and dangerously playing with the balance of natural forces. A must read book.