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  1. says:

    Ma Jian is a Chinese writer and a dissident He was born in 1953, so he is part of the generation of Chinese who lived through Mao s Cultural Revolution as children and young adults, as well as seeing the implementation and the limitations of Deng Xiaoping s Open Door economic policy Ma has not been a silent observer of the myriad ways in which the Chinese government has cracked down on freedom of expression in Chinese society he has been a member of the dissident community of Chinese ar Ma Jian is a Chinese writer and a dissident He was born in 1953, so he is part of the generation of Chinese who lived through Mao s Cultural Revolution as children and young adults, as well as seeing the implementation and the limitations of Deng Xiaoping s Open Door economic policy Ma has not been a silent observer of the myriad ways in which the Chinese government has cracked down on freedom of expression in Chinese society he has been a member of the dissident community of Chinese artists and writers for decades, both while living in China and Hong Kong, and later from exile in Europe Ma has suffered for his outspokenness His Stick Out Your Tongue, published in 1987, was censured and his writings were banned by the Chinese government a ban that extended to his future publications.Ma JianIn addition to his earlier commitment to the dissident arts community in China, Ma participated in the 1989 democracy protests in Beijing, which culminated in the Tiananmen Massacre In the devastating aftermath of this brutal crackdown, Ma remained in Beijing and wrote The Noodle Maker, an extremely dark satire fueled by Ma s anger and disillusionment with Chinese communist society and politics The novel is framed by an ongoing conversation between a professional blood donor, who has made millions giving blood and providing others with the means to do so despite limitations of height, weight, or frequency of past donations, and a professional writer, who blends his observations of the world around him with his consideration of the characters that populate a novel he is writing, who often seemreal to him than the people he sees around him every day That interspersing of reality and fantasy holds true throughout The Noodle Maker, which includes healthy strains of surrealism as we move from framing discussions and interjections from the blood donor and the writer, and stories which introduce us to different characters who are dysfunctionally trying to negotiate life in a society where compassion is difficult to find, where empty slogans guide people s lives, where progress is measured not in terms of happiness or fulfillment, but in terms of economic production, material signs of Westernization, and complete adherence to the latest government dictates The novel s stories combine dark flights of fantasy with brutal action In one story, an entrepreneur buys a ceramics furnace and opens a crematorium along with his elderly mother, in which he provides a special twist mourners can pay for him to play specific musical selections while their loved ones are being cremated In another, an actress decides on her final performance committed suicide on stage by being eaten by a tiger view spoiler In the most horrifying scene in the novel, a man and his companion, a three legged dog who speaks Chinese, watch from their terrace as a girl is gang raped A huge crowd of onlookers gathers and watches, as a group of police slowly try to reach the girl and some government officials hold a meeting during the rape to decide what actions to take hide spoiler Ma Jian writes with a white hot anger that practically drips off the page This novel accomplished exactly what Ma wanted it to The characters and stories haunt me I can t shake them off As an anguished cry against the inhumanity of life in Communist China, which Ma has devoted his life to fighting, The Noodle Maker is disturbing and difficult to read, but profoundly affecting, one of the strongest examples I have read of dark social satire


  2. says:

    The Noodle Maker deserves way better than its current 3.33 rating will or will not grow over time It consists of several loosely interconnected short stories, sometimes with a touch of surreal, often with a delicious dark humor, and mostly absurd.A satire of the Chinese society influenced by the Open Door Policy instituted by Deng Xiaoping in 1978 , this collection has an interesting array of characters the failed writer who dreams of his big novel, but instead writes political oriented ar The Noodle Maker deserves way better than its current 3.33 rating will or will not grow over time It consists of several loosely interconnected short stories, sometimes with a touch of surreal, often with a delicious dark humor, and mostly absurd.A satire of the Chinese society influenced by the Open Door Policy instituted by Deng Xiaoping in 1978 , this collection has an interesting array of characters the failed writer who dreams of his big novel, but instead writes political oriented articles about everyday made up heroes the professional blood donor who has become a rich man by exploiting the benefits of his occupation the jealous actress who wants to get revenge on her lover by committing a most peculiar suicide the young woman whom nobody thinks is still a virgin because of her rather huge breasts a talking dog and a man debating over the former s belief that dogs are superior to humans.My favorite was the story of a middle aged man who was still living with his mother, both taking care of their business an independent crematorium Man, was that a bizarre and twisted story The son has a whole philosophy in choosing the right music for the dead, according to their status in life and the money their relatives pay.There was also a mention of Nicolae Ceau escu, our late Romanian dictator, in a humorous context I will attempt a translation below The year when Ceausescu was due to visit their town, the mayoralty decided to hide the ugliest buildings, on the main boulevards, behind pressed wood panels, painted as to resemble a line of fine looking houses Ceausescu was passing in a hurry anyway what mattered was only his first impression.What Wikipedia says about the author Ma Jian is a vocal critic of China s Communist regime His works explore themes and subjects that are taboo in China He has continually called for greater freedom of expression and the release of jailed writers and other political prisoners As a result, his books have been banned in China for the last 25 years, and since the summer of 2011, he has been denied entry into the mainland. I strongly recommend this book if you want to get a cynical glimpse of China, if you enjoy dark humor and don t mind a heavy dose of absurd and surreal.P.S A piece of music from the father of Chinese rock , Cui Jian


  3. says:

    Let it be known that I did not read this under the best circumstances short works give me trouble, short stories evenso, and what with the last few days consisting of the overbearing War and Peace competing with my current under the weather state, I in no way gave this introduction to a brand new author the attention it deserved Ema and Kris do a far better job, and I am planning on coming back to Ma with Beijing Coma But enough excuses.Despite all that, I know dark satire when I see it Let it be known that I did not read this under the best circumstances short works give me trouble, short stories evenso, and what with the last few days consisting of the overbearing War and Peace competing with my current under the weather state, I in no way gave this introduction to a brand new author the attention it deserved Ema and Kris do a far better job, and I am planning on coming back to Ma with Beijing Coma But enough excuses.Despite all that, I know dark satire when I see it, and Ma s constant references to the Open Door Policy and its capitalistic rampage across Communist China clinched the urgency The problems stem from my own experiences, deluged as they are in hating the lie of the patriarchal free market without having but the slightest awareness of the social, cultural, and historical context Ma is coming from It was only after finishing the book and subsequently rereading Kris review that I realized the undercurrent of anger, a truth I couldn t see for all the gratuitous beating and raping and ultimate trivializing of the female form I will read about the horrors of Communism and Capitalism and appreciate the truth of the stories any day, but not at the expense of myriad female caricatures sacrificed without ado As mentioned, the work is short, time was shorter, and I didn t have the tools to engage with the stories enough to distract me from one of my major caveats However, I did very much enjoy the story of the mother and son and their choreographing crematorium, where bodies are burnt to the sound of their favorite music as calculated by their Party status and other officiated characteristics And, of course, the noodle maker I understand that metaphor all too well, and will be coming back for


  4. says:

    The Noodle Maker , for me, oscillates between two and three stars The skill is undeniable the occasionally lovely passage and,importantly, full characters and a coherent, if shattering, vision This is the post Maoist, crony capitalism of the current People s Republic, and Ma Jian s dissection of it is withering Two friends meet for dinner a writer and a man who runs a blood donation ring that supplies what the wealthy ill seek Most of the novel is made up of stories that the writer The Noodle Maker , for me, oscillates between two and three stars The skill is undeniable the occasionally lovely passage and,importantly, full characters and a coherent, if shattering, vision This is the post Maoist, crony capitalism of the current People s Republic, and Ma Jian s dissection of it is withering Two friends meet for dinner a writer and a man who runs a blood donation ring that supplies what the wealthy ill seek Most of the novel is made up of stories that the writer wants to tell, rather than the orthodox patriotism that he is paid very little for They are stories of a world poisoned by corruption and despair a man who makes an excellent living catering to wishes for an impressive cremation, an actress who commits suicide as performance art, a talentless literary editor who exploits the women writers who seek publication with the possible exception of his wife, with whom he is engaged in a Strindbergian dance of death , a man who makes his living writing letters of faithless love, a girl persecuted for her beauty, and an assassinated talking dog who makes greater sense than most if not all of the humans I have read books written out of despair before, but never put one down with a sense that it is a work without hope Yet any power that its refutation of hope fades when placed beside the outrage of Ai Weiwei that addresses corruption irrefutably I am thinking of the wall of small backpacks that evokes the death of children during an earthquake because of the shoddy construction of their schools In the end, perhaps Ma Jian s letter writer says it best My first piece of advice is never believe anything a man tells you Above all, never trust a writer they trap you in a web of words from which there is no escape They make their living making things up, they are professional liars Very post modern, withthan a teaspoon of truth, but in the end paralyzing


  5. says:

    The Noodle Maker 2004 is set during the early 90s, in a China supposedly transformed by Deng s reform politics everything is for sale now, you can go to McDonald s, you can start your own business feeding, clothing or burying your fellow comrades, women are learning to wear western makeup and men to expect them to Of course, deep down, not much has changed communism falling in Albania and Romania and the Tiananmen square massacre pretty much go unreported in favour of renewed efforts by the The Noodle Maker 2004 is set during the early 90s, in a China supposedly transformed by Deng s reform politics everything is for sale now, you can go to McDonald s, you can start your own business feeding, clothing or burying your fellow comrades, women are learning to wear western makeup and men to expect them to Of course, deep down, not much has changed communism falling in Albania and Romania and the Tiananmen square massacre pretty much go unreported in favour of renewed efforts by the Party to find new ways of maintaining control As long as you can control what people read and watch, you control what they want to spend their newfound wealth on, and so you can sit back and let capitalism serve the greater goal.The novel finds two friends sharing dinner a writer, who never does anything but write what he s told, and a blood donor That s his profession he sells his own blood, is paid in cash, and spends his money on western goods and eastern women The writer is complaining that he s been commissioned to write yet another book praising a revolutionary hero You re the one who chose to be a writer, says his friend what the hell did you expect You can t change anything And so the writer starts telling him what he wants to write but isn t allowed to Cue a series of interwoven short stories about men and women he knows or knows of, or just made up and their attempts to find their way out of a situation where three seemingly opposing systems old traditions, Maoist dogma and cutthroat capitalism work beautifully together to keep everything as it was.OK, it s not perfect Ma is a little too fond of epithets necessary in story, of course, since the narrator can t name any names , and I m honestly not sure if some of the views on women presented are supposed to be the characters , the narrator s, or Ma s But what impresses me about The Noodle Maker isn t just how vivid the stories are, ranging from gallows humour the way one character can t see a naked woman without praising Mao, for instance to soul hurtingly depressing, but also the way the narratives keep getting sneakily hijacked by the narrator, by the propaganda that inevitably pops up everywhere whether it says Praise the Party or Buy Coke He does his best to subvert it, but he can never escape it he can take control of the story as long as he doesn t say it out loud, but language itself has been politicized to the degree that writers can only write in slogans, and characters can only act by either serving something or heroically sacrificing themselves Orwellian in the best and worst sense


  6. says:

    A scathing and sometimes funny portrayal of the period just after Deng Xiaoping s proclamation of the Open Door Policy and encouragement of capitalist initiatives Suddenly every kind of small enterprise popped up, and ideals, whether traditional or Maoist, evaporated Ma Jian satirizes this period with such characters as a professional blood donor, a young man who buys a pottery kiln and uses it for his own small cremation business, a woman who sacrifices herself on stage to a tiger as a piece A scathing and sometimes funny portrayal of the period just after Deng Xiaoping s proclamation of the Open Door Policy and encouragement of capitalist initiatives Suddenly every kind of small enterprise popped up, and ideals, whether traditional or Maoist, evaporated Ma Jian satirizes this period with such characters as a professional blood donor, a young man who buys a pottery kiln and uses it for his own small cremation business, a woman who sacrifices herself on stage to a tiger as a piece of performance art, and others who wander through this novel, which is constructed from a series of interwoven stories What binds these stories together is that they all seem to emerge from the fantasies, or perhaps experiences, of a professional writer who seems unable to write but quite capable of oral narration The writer reaches the conclusion of his stories, and the nadir of his pessimism, with the tale of a three legged dog who can talk and presents the argument that dogs are far superior to humans One indeed finds little justification in this novel to believe otherwise Ma Jian s book is one of the best satires I have read of the moral bankruptcy of those years, and, I regret to say, much of what he describes here resonates in contemporary China as well Expect to be shocked, and at times disgusted, but this is an instructive read


  7. says:

    A courageous voice into the Chinese cultural revolution, painted with sad and miserable characters that don t know they are that way because of the brainwashing of the Party since they were born The characters are sometimes named butimportantly defined by their occupation, their abuse, the sexist way they act towards others, and their relationship with the Party Very powerful story telling.


  8. says:

    Wins the I am uncomfortable and I am laughing and I am going to have bad dreams tonight award


  9. says:

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009 The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian 1991, trans from Chinese 2004 by Flora Drew is the 3rd work I have read for Jeannie s Chinese Challenge The Challenges runs from Sept 1, 2009 to Sept 1, 2010 I have posted prior to this on The Uninvited and Miss Chopsticks The Noodle Maker is set China, in the 1980s It begins with two old friendly enemies having dinner together as they often do One is a writer of articles for the government about heroic Wednesday, October 28, 2009 The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian 1991, trans from Chinese 2004 by Flora Drew is the 3rd work I have read for Jeannie s Chinese Challenge The Challenges runs from Sept 1, 2009 to Sept 1, 2010 I have posted prior to this on The Uninvited and Miss Chopsticks The Noodle Maker is set China, in the 1980s It begins with two old friendly enemies having dinner together as they often do One is a writer of articles for the government about heroic workers giving their lives to save pigs on state farms The other is a professional blood donor who has found a way to become wealthy and have a big social standing by donating his blood How this can happen is just part of the wonderful twisted humor of this book The writer dreams of one day giving up his party propaganda work and writing the great novel he has been working on in his mind for years The blood donor tells him he is a delusional fool and should just try to writeand better stories about heroic workers who would rather work themselves to death than miss their factory production quotas After the opening chapter in which the two lead characters have a meal and solve the problems of China, the book develops into a set of very loosely related tales each could stand on its own a short story that are ideas for the book the writer hopes to write one day The blood donor feels free to but in at times telling the writer how stupid his stories are There are eight stories The first one sort of explains how the blood donor got rich during the period of the open door policy The second one is an insane story about a mother and her 35 year old son who run a for profit crematorium where much care is devoted to considering what songs to play while your love one is burned The son tells us all about dead bodies in China, what days certain types of people die on etc He is always happy to see a party official come in as it is time for some well deserved revenge on the oppressor He has observations on all the people brought in, sort of summing up their lives in a few words, grave yard humor at it best or worst If you are a young attractive female I would not go here for cremation.One of the stories is about a once beautiful actress women are very much valued based on the appeal of their bodies in the world of The Noodle Maker who decides to kill herself by having a tiger eat her on stage The owner of the venue sees nothing odd about this and is maybe interested in allowing her to do it but then agrees when she offers to have sex with him, if he feels like it There is nobody with a healthy self image in this world.One chapter Let the Mirror Be the Judge is a viciously nasty look at the reaction of the women in a small all female office to a new twenty year old coworker with what seem to be ideal breasts The character of women is somehow reflected in the size and shape of their breasts in common folk views Large round breast signify a virtuous wife and a good mother Medium size means the woman is suitable as a mistress.A woman with small breasts is normally the most intelligent sort The other women hate the new employee with perfect breasts as soon as they see her When she leaves the office they speculate about her breasts The office manager, a totally loveless 51 year old, says her breasts are large because she has allowed many men to fondle them This is presented as assumed to be true by all common sense Some of the women insist she must make use of a breast pump, another speculates that she had implants All of them assume the woman, who has never had any sort of romantic encounter in her life, is very promiscuous and freely tell everyone who knows her this One of the women pretends to be her friend then asks her to let her see her breasts The woman is driven to despair by this and begins to take sleeping pills One take she decides to prove to everyone that her breasts are real by running naked through the streets Her and her family end up discgraced and they move to the country side She ends up married years later to a farm work, still never having had the first romantic episode in her life The farmer finds about her old reputation and assumes he has been tricked into marrying a woman with a very bad past and beats her for the rest of her life This is presented as if it were a simple narration of normal events and attitudes.No one in this book is spared Nobody comes off looking good Men are sexual predators and women are all one step above prostitutes This is not presented as if it were a bad thing, it simply life in China Every body is envious of anything someone else has and takes joy in the misfortunes of others If someone out ranks you, suck up to them until they are out then suck up to whoever takes their place If someone is below you, exploit them as much as you can Personal relationships are power struggles not partnerships Life is a macabre joke so grab all the pleasure you can One of the funniest chapters is a debate between a dog and a man who mouths the party line on everything because he is scared to do otherwise No one is seen as actually believing in the party doctrines but everyone pretends they do The Noodle Maker is a very funny book It is a bit nasty twisted kind of laughter I thought to myself, these things should not be treated as jokes then I wanted to get onto the next joke If you can imagine George Orwell and Nikolai Gogol collaborating on a Mad Magazine article illustrated by R C Crumb and you sort of can see the flavor of this hilarious evil book Tyranny does not stand up well against laughter I endorse this book for those with a bit of a twisted sense of humor but will advise parts of it shows misogistic actions and thoughts There is sexual violence In fact the only admirable character in the book is a talking dog Ma Jian s writings are banned in China He now lives in England


  10. says:

    Haunting and disturbing, but truly one that you must read Like it should be magical realism, but this is not magic..just life Definitely want to readby Ma Jian


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