Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: "Turbulence" by Jia Pingwa

I will fully admit that I picked up the novel Turbulence by Chinese author Jia Pingwa, an author who I have never heard off strictly because the translator was Howard Goldblatt, the Notre Dame professor who has translated every book that Nobel Laureate Mo Yan has published in English. I love Mo Yan, and the fact that I read so much I have translators that I am fans with, but that love does not extend to Pingwa’s novel, which is dull and boring despite a good opening a few grisly scenes of violence. It is hard for me to actually picture anyone having any knowledge of this book, let alone wanting to read who isn’t majoring in any kind of facet of Chinese culture or if you are taking one of Mr. Goldblatt’s classes up north from where I live. It has a cool beginning, where Golden Dog, one of the story’s two main narrators, shows up under mysterious circumstances at the bank of the Zhou River. There he meets an old man named Han, and a female named Water Girl, who is the other main focus of the novel. These two entities are stuck in the middle of a war between two clans who want to exploit the river and it’s resources. It sounds interesting, but after a daring rescue of one of the clan’s high ranking family members, it slowly becomes a drag to read, with too much history and not enough drama, with the kind of prose and paragraphs that can dry the mouths of even the most patient of readers. I found some of the passages pertaining to a suicide to be very jarring, with the description of rats eating the man’s toes and blood seeping through his socks to be very effective, but at 500 pages, it is hard to see anyone enjoying this book on even that level.

Rating: 2/5

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