Wolf Totem

Wolf Totem

3.98 (2,736 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Paperback
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'In war,' the old man said, 'wolves are smarter than men. We Mongols learned from them how to hunt, how to encircle, even how to fight a war. There are no wold packs where you Chinese live, so you haven't learned to fight a war. You can't win a war just because you have lots of land and people. No, it depends on whether you're a wolf or a sheep.' It is the 1960s, and Beijing intellectual Chen Zhen volunteers to live in a remote nomadic settlement on the Inner Mongolian grasslands. There, he discovers an age-old synergy between the nomads, their livestock, and the wild wolves who roam the plains. Chen learns about the rich spiritual relationship that exists between these adversaries, and what each might learn from the other. But when members of the People's Republic swarm in from the cities to bring modernity and productivity to the grasslands, the peace of Chen's solitary existence is shattered, and the delicate balance between humans and wolves is disrupted. Only time will tell whether the grasslands' environment and culture will ever recover... A beautiful and moving portrayal of a land and culture that no longer exists, Wolf Totem is also a powerful portrait of modern China and a fascinating insight into the country's view of itself, its history and its people.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 540 pages
  • 134 x 199 x 39mm | 495g
  • Hawthorn, Australia
  • 0143009559
  • 9780143009559

About Jiang Rong

Jiang Rong was born in Jiangsu in 1946. His father's job saw the family move to Beijing in 1957, and Jiang entered the Central Academy of Fine Art in 1966.

His education cut short by events in China, the twenty-one-year-old Jiang volunteered to work in Inner Mongolia's East Ujimchin Banner in 1967, where he lived and labored with the native nomads until the age of thirty-three. He took with him two cases filled with Chinese transla-tions of Western literary classics, and spent eleven years immersed in personal studies of Mongolian history, culture, and tradition. In par-ticular, he developed a fascination for the mythologies surrounding the wolves of the grasslands, spending much of his leisure time learning the stories and raising an orphaned wolf cub.

In 1978 he returned to Beijing, continuing his education at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences one year later. Jiang worked as an academic until his retirement in 2006.

Wolf Totem is a fictional account of life in the 1970s that draws on Jiang's personal experience of the grasslands of China's border region.
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Rating details

2,736 ratings
3.98 out of 5 stars
5 37% (1,006)
4 35% (971)
3 19% (531)
2 6% (156)
1 3% (72)
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