Critically lauded in Mo Yan's native China, Red Sorghum was the recipient of the country's major literary awards in addition to being adapted into an equally successful 1987 film.
Aside from its riveting content, the novel - which has been republished to mark the author's Nobel prize win - is characterised by a non-linear narrative that sees the past and present flow through the same pages.
The plot spans over three generations of a family struggling through war and strife in the tumultuous Chinese countryside of the 1930s. Yu Zhan'ao, a former bandit and previous co-owner of the Northeast Gaomi Township's prosperous sorghum wine distillery, strikes out with his wife and son against invading Japanese soldiers.
Years of suffering, amounting to a staggering number of losses for the family, fall on Yu's grandson to recount, drawing on each and every side of the story from his ancestors to form the whole legacy.
As befits the time and place, there is scarcely a glowing moment of peace for the characters of Red Sorghum, despite which the strength of Mo Yan's prose, vivid and searing, always manages to make its presence felt.
From : The National.