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A benign old monk listens to a prospective novice's tale of depravity, violence, and carnivorous excess while a nice little family drama - in which nearly everyone dies - unfurls. But in this tale of sharp hatchets, bad water, and a rusty WWII mortar, we can't help but laugh. Reminiscent of the novels of dark masters of European absurdism like Gunter Grass, Witold Gombrowicz, or Jakov Lind, Mo Yan's "Pow!" is a comic masterpiece. In this bizarre romp through the Chinese countryside, the author treats us to a cornucopia of cooked animal flesh - ostrich, camel, donkey, and dog, as well as the more common varieties. As his dual narratives merge and feather into one another, each informing and illuminating the other, Yan probes the character and lifestyle of modern China. Displaying his many talents as fabulist, storyteller, scatologist, master of allusion and cliche, and more, "Pow!" carries the reader along quickly, hungrily, and giddily, up until its surprising denouement. Yan has been called one of the great novelists of modern Chinese literature, and the "New York Times Book Review" has hailed his work as harsh and gritty, raunchy and funny. He writes big, sometimes mystifying, sometimes infuriating, but always entertaining novels - and "Pow!" is no exception.