You've been warned. Still, it's an essential book by an essential writer, one of the brightest and best critics of modern China. Jul 30, Marla rated it it was ok. I gave it two stars because it educated me. Let me save you the horrific visual images and give you the message. In China, women are hunted, kidnapped, forcibly have IUD's inserted, forcibly sterilized, and have late trimester abortions performed on them against their will by having disinfectant injected into them and the baby's head.
And, if that's not enough, if the baby is expelled The Dark Road is indeed dark, the topic being the one child policy in China and the Family Planning Committee. And, if that's not enough, if the baby is expelled alive, they are often murdered. Then, even though the husbands witness their wives being brutalized, they often insist to keep trying for a son.
Jian does a superb job at describing these things. The writing is good. The alternate voice of Meili's unborn child seems almost fairytale-like and magical. From all the 5 star ratings, it's probable that the book eventually weaves a good story. I don't deny it's well written. I like books with a message, books that educate me about other cultures and our differences. I got the message from this book in 83 pages. I could go no more. To read further felt like brutalizing myself, also.
Jul 14, Zareek rated it really liked it Recommends it for: anyone. If you glimpse through most of the reviews, you'll find the word 'disturbing' being used time and again. And it's true - this book really is disturbing. And graphic. And eye-opening. It's about a husband and wife who are desperate for a son to carry on a philosophical family line. Already having a daughter, they face brutality from government officers who are trying to uphold one-child policy, and thus their effort for a second children requires them to live a nomadic, depressing, inhumane, even If you glimpse through most of the reviews, you'll find the word 'disturbing' being used time and again.
Already having a daughter, they face brutality from government officers who are trying to uphold one-child policy, and thus their effort for a second children requires them to live a nomadic, depressing, inhumane, even bloody life. This is the second book I read written by Ma Jian, and I must say Red Dust is more personal well it's his very own memoir. But this book, really shaked me me with the grotesque hardship of living under a brutal government, that at times I can't help but wonder why there's really a part of this world that is THAT cruel, frightening and depressing.
I'm not even sure if pregnant mothers should be allowed to read it. You can't find a better author to write about life in China other than Ma Jian; he's both an insider and outsider of that country. Oct 22, J. Dunn rated it it was amazing. For those who think, with typical western naivete, that all is rosy in the New China, dig into this novel. More likely, it will dig into you. A vivid and painful perspective on the pollution in rural areas, personal outrages like forced abortions, general civil unrest, and other detriments to ordinary Chinese citizens in the Pearl River area.
The horrors are so finely woven into the story, one becomes afraid to read the next page. Yes, that is the region where the new a rare 5 stars Shattering. Yes, that is the region where the new mile bridge has been built so that the elite can travel from Hong Kong in 30 minutes versus three hours, whizzing past millions of peasants who are still enslaved and deprived of basics and denied access to the new economy.
May 26, Vuk Trifkovic rated it liked it. Very dark. But a bit patchy. In fact, it's all a bit, I don't know, Victorian? There is welcome twist of weirdness towards the end, but for a large chunks of itit just reads like a 19th century novel. I also don't know if it is translation or not, but lot of prose is pedestrian and there is much that is unfeasible about how the main character is portrayed. Having said that, it's a gripping read, pages flew by Apr 29, Marc Faoite rated it really liked it. MA Jian is a bestselling Chinese writer based in London whose earlier books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
The Dark Road is his sixth novel. In a way, this is unders MA Jian is a bestselling Chinese writer based in London whose earlier books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. In a way, this is understandable. Like all his previous work, The Dark Road is politically engaged and exposes the disconcerting reality of modern China. The modern China it depicts is a cruel and harsh place, profoundly damaged on every level imaginable.
While researching The Dark Road, Ma posed as a journalist and witnessed some of the horrifying scenes he describes in such unflinching detail. He also spent time living among family planning fugitives, and this experience gives a ring of authenticity to the story. Kongsi is a village school teacher who traces his lineage back to Confucius. His wife, Meili, has already had one child their daughter Naanan but now, against government regulations, she is pregnant again and guilty of carrying an illegal foetus.
The villagers revolt against forced abortions and sterilisations done by the Family Planning Committee and the army are called in to quell the unrest. Kongsi hopes the unborn child will be a boy who will carry the family name. Mei Li wants this child to be her last, even if it is a girl. At first it seems that Kongsi might be the hero of this book, but in fact it turns out to be his wife who assumes that role.
Through her character, Ma reveals the role of women in Chinese society and the limitations and restrictions imposed on them. Kongsi finds work as part of a demolition crew destroying ancient homes to make way for the flooding of the Three Gorges Dam, while his family make their home on a boat in the river. The themes of destruction of the old and the killing of the unborn run throughout this often harrowing book and Ma depicts a country that is systematically destroying both its past and its future, desecrating and sterilising both its earth and its people.
At times, it seems Kongsi sees his wife as little more than a receptacle to produce a son who will carry on his family name. This book leaves you feeling raw and somewhat soiled by the dreadful knowledge it contains. The title, The Dark Road, definitely delivers on what it promises — a bleak journey through modern China.
Aug 04, David Gurevich rated it really liked it. This is truly a scary book. It is so graphic and ruthless that at some point I started wondering if I am too sentimental or the rest of the world is so pitiless — how can anyone read a two-page description of an eight-month abortion — as graphic as it gets — with the embryo extracted and killed in front of his mother? By the time she gets a huge bill for services, you have been numbed to anything.
The book takes place in modern-day China, a country good for businessmen and Party cadres, but not s This is truly a scary book. The book takes place in modern-day China, a country good for businessmen and Party cadres, but not so much for peasants, especially if they want more than one child. If you compare social institutions not by names, but by their M. Kongzi already has a child — a daughter.
But Kongzi, who traces his roots to Confucius, insists on a son, and so he grabs his much-suffering pregnant wife Meili, and they hit the road, always on the lam from the Family Planning police. There are many fugitives like them on the Yangtze River, all in trouble with the family law, living without a semblance of social safety net that we associate with this formally Socialist country. Envious of their good fortune, other parents in the village have sought to get rich… they mutilate their babies at birth, twisting or snapping their limbs, knowing that the severer the handicap the more money they will earn… Within months the parents are able to buy color TVs, refrigerators, imported cigarettes [sic]… the mud houses have been replaced with three-storey villas… local government hiked taxes and … turned a blind eye to family planning.
They boil it in broth, adding some ginseng and angelica. She wants to be a modern businesswoman and work in a high-rise and wear a business suit. But in the rest of China mass poisonings are common, baby formula is all fake, and he list goes on. From a purely literary standpoint, Ma Jian does not always connect: social-r of Dickens and magic-r of Marquez are a combination not as organic as a tiger and a dragon. You are really there, whether you can handle it or not. I should just footnote that the horrors are taking place against the background of wild economic boom, enhanced by the approaching Olympics, where whole fake temples are erected for foreign visitors and fake greenery is planted for one day for visiting Olympic officials.
The UN have voted for one-child policy. Are you against the whole world? Who wants more Chinese in the world? And that may well be the scariest aspect of this already scary book. Apr 16, joey rated it liked it Shelves: fiction , first-reads. Ma Jian describes the travails of a woman, husband, and daughter against China's one-child policy, family-planning officials, and inhumane treatment of the rural poor in the years before the glitter of the Beijing Olympics. Ma describes the protagonist's ambivalence about her own dark road and the modern China into which she will bear her child: "[Meili] doesn't know when [her child] will finally decide to emerge, but when it does, she will gently lower the drawbridge of her castle and let it travel down her dark road into this Hell.
He attempts to show, to explain, to teach ; it is no accident that Meili's husband Kongzi is a schoolteacher in the Confucian tradition and a male descendant of Confucius. Write them down then copy them out ten times. Green meadows. Ma interrupts the narrative regularly with a sort of surrogate omniscient narrator, the "infant spirit", whose passages not only remove themselves from the action and observe from above, but are unnecessarily, distractingly printed in a different font.
Given the breaks in tone for the infant spirit's passages, the change in font seems mostly gimmickry. While Ma effectively exposes the terrors, the brutal inhumanity of the one-child policy, as implemented, his detachment--whether as Confucian teacher or infant spirit--also unfortunately keeps the characters at arm's length. A reader sympathizes, but does not empathize, with the longsuffering protagonist, Meili. Translation issues exacerbate this distance, as the English text delivers a sometimes clumsy mix of formal vocabulary and idiom, using slightly dated phrases like "blow his top" and "on the sly" and awkward exclamations such as "Kongzi punches his chest and wails like a strangled cat: 'What an unfilial wretch I am!
I should be garroted, stabbed ten thousand times …'" Although Ma distances his reader, his detached narrative style is intentional, couching his dark story in a larger narrative of persistent aspiration, of incremental learning. As a river sweeps Meili and Kongzi's ducks, their livelihood, away, "Call them back, Kongzi! That'll bring them back. View 2 comments. Jun 28, Karen rated it liked it Shelves: fiction. A very sad, depressing, dark tale about the one child policy implemented by China. It's not an easy read and I must warn you that there's a very disturbing abortion scene that will haunt you if you decide to read.
It's an eye opener for human and women's rights. I read recently that China has modified their one child policy allowing families to have a second child if one of the parents came from an only child household, but it will still be enforced. This novel follows the journey of Kongzi and A very sad, depressing, dark tale about the one child policy implemented by China.
This novel follows the journey of Kongzi and Meili as they flee from Kong Village with their two-year old daughter, Nannan for illegally having a second child without having the state's permission. As a selfish, Confucius' descendant, Kongzi is desperately wanting to conceive a son to pass the family name while risking the lives of his daughter and wife. It's heartbreaking to follow Meili's story, as well as the women she meets, as they all fight to stay hidden from The Family Planning Committee in hopes to give birth to their children; Basically, no woman is saved because the poor women without resident permits are sold into prostitution and labor camps were they are sexually assaulted and abused.
As I was reading this book I found a quote that can best summarize the lives of these women in China: "Have you no idea how dangerous this country is? If you're unlucky enough to have been born with a cunt, you'll be monitored wherever you go. Men control our vaginas; the state controls our wombs. You can try to lock up your body, but the government still owns the key.
That's just women's fate. I also was not a fan of Kongzi. He's a horrible human being and a hypocrite. Nov 22, Brian Gluckman rated it did not like it. Look, I just can't with this book. People are giving it really high ratings, lots of four or even five stars, and no, it's not that good. In fact, it's not good at all. I think a lot of people are confusing the idea of a compelling story about modern rural China under Communist oppression something that at least in some parts is either patently false or just based in modern myth: see, baby soup with the idea of the novel being a compelling read on its own merits.
The Dark Road flatly fails in t Look, I just can't with this book. The Dark Road flatly fails in the latter. Yes, the government is an awful villain in this book, but parents Kongzhi and Meili are no prizes either. Their ignorance of their daughter Nannan--one of the only genuinely likable characters we get to know here--obviously will lead to great sorrow for everyone involved. The reader is hardly surprised to see where this is going.
And maybe it's a bad translation, but it's hard not to notice the sudden shift at page from straight-ahead storytelling based in the world in which we live to that of an increasingly fantastical realm. The last 15 pages completely lose their grasp on reality; perhaps if the rest of the book had been written like that, it wouldn't have been a seven-month slog for me to finish this thing.
I don't think Ma had much of a plan for the story, and when faced with a need to just get it over with, he wrapped it up in as much a hurry as possible. At any rate, I'm glad I plowed ahead just so I could be done with it, but I wouldn't wish that fate on anyone else. Nov 06, Robyn Smith rated it really liked it. Ma Jian exposes the dark side of the one child policy in this novel of suffering and loss.
In the city of Heaven nobody has babies because it's so polluted, they can't be made. Rubbish is a metaphor for women's lives under the state; they don't own their bodies, they can be forced to have abortions if the family planning police track them down, their lives are worth nothing.
Dark Road by Laura Lundgren Smith | Playscripts Inc.
Meili,who's pregnant and her husband Kongzi supposedly descended from Confucius have to flee for their lives after the dre Ma Jian exposes the dark side of the one child policy in this novel of suffering and loss. Meili,who's pregnant and her husband Kongzi supposedly descended from Confucius have to flee for their lives after the dreaded family planning police raid their village and carry out forced abortions and sterilisations on women. At first they and their daughter Nannan join others on a boat trip on the Yangtze River, then get their own boat and find work where they can, breeding and selling ducks or working in towns along the river.
Unfortunately, the police catch up with them and kill their next baby. Meili finds herself retreating into her own mental space, often thinking of the village where she grew up and thinking of her family.
Kongzi, a teacher, has to endure menial work and takes to drink for comfort. In the city of "Heaven", things become worse, Meili is pregnant again but her baby doesn't want be born A grim but very worthwhile read, encapsulating the darkness of a society where most things are suppressed and nobody knows the real truth about anything. May 10, Pamela rated it really liked it Shelves: china , I was really not sure how to rate this book. The writing is excellent. But the entire book was so grim, I hesitate to recommend it to anyone but the hardiest of readers. Not only did this book deal with the one-child policy and it's effect on one family in particular, and a segment of society in general, but the author also included the rampant corruption of lower Chinese officials and the unbelievable pollution and working conditions of workers who recycle e-waste.
So where on earth could Wow. So where on earth could a ray of hope penetrate this morass of human misery? Meili and Kongzi could have emigrated, perhaps, but I do kind of like that they, like millions of others in their shoes, don't get that option. It made for some harsh realism. I could say more about what could have happened, but that might give too much away about what did happen. All in all, I think Ma Jian's portrayal of a family planning fugitive family was far too accurate for my comfort and raised some of the grim realities about China that I would prefer to turn away from.
A very bleak page-turner. The one-child policy is probably something many people have heard of and perhaps even read a bit about. However, this book brings you right into the heart of the country, inside a village, where peasants are fighting against officials for a basic right of humanity - to reproduce.
Set in the 21st century, it tells the story of one family and how one man's sense of filial piety results in an almost-nightly intrusion into his wife's womb in attempts to impregnate her with A very bleak page-turner. Set in the 21st century, it tells the story of one family and how one man's sense of filial piety results in an almost-nightly intrusion into his wife's womb in attempts to impregnate her with a son.
But these are not conducive times to carry out the Confucian value of bearing a son against all odds, for this family is going against all odds to eke out a living as fugitives and refugees in their own country. This book also exposes many contemporary scandals in China including the production of fake milk powder.
The conclusion is a bit peculiar, but if you can view it as symbolic instead of realistic, it would make sense and serve as a culmination of what the protagonist, Meili, has had to endure throughout the book. Apr 19, Kristin rated it liked it. I really liked this book, Ma Jian certainly doesn't sugar coat the details in this book. Honestly I found it very hard to put down, I was repulsed, horrified, and curious if Meili would ever find happiness at the same time. I really liked the infant spirit's dialogue too, it was a unique insight into what was going on.
Really I was prepped to give this book at least 4 starts until I got towards the end I'm not upset there was no happy ending life rarely has any but I'm a little disappointed I really liked this book, Ma Jian certainly doesn't sugar coat the details in this book. I'm not upset there was no happy ending life rarely has any but I'm a little disappointed and confused with how things went down. I don't understand the 4 year pregnancy, was it phantom kicks or some kind of Jesus baby?
And I'm really curious but a little scared to find what happened to Nannan On a side note: Maybe growing up in a society where for the most part men and women are equal has made my opinion biased but I really hated Kongzi. He was beyond obnoxious and cowardly. Oct 07, Kelsey rated it really liked it. In this novel, the main character, Meili, is forced to go on the run with her husband after illegally falling pregnant with her second child. Over the next ten years, she gives birth to three more children, and raises none of them. She is raped.
She forgets her daughter places way too often. She puts up with being married to a horrible guy. She works in shit factories or breeds ducks. She is naive to the point of foolishness. She also sets her rapist on fire literally , becomes an entrepreneur, discovers herself, and becomes a great mother mostly. I would really recommend reading it.
Apr 08, Eric Stone rated it really liked it. If I was to rate this book entirely on the quality of the writing and the power of the story it would easily get a five, a six if there was one. Ma Jian is one of my favorite authors. He makes me think. He makes me feel. He sickens, astounds, enthralls, confuses and generally riles me all up. The reason I gave this one four stars is that is so unrelentingly bleak and depressing that I just couldn't bring myself to give it the highest rating. If it wasn't so powerfully written it wouldn't ha Yow!
If it wasn't so powerfully written it wouldn't have the same impact, so I'm glad it was, but it was tough reading because of that, too. I hesitate to recommend it less some of you read it on my recommendation and that get mad at me for having done so when you become depressed by reading it. Still, he continues to be an author whose every book I will eagerly await.
How messed up is that? Nov 02, Uwe Hook rated it it was amazing. I'd call this a vastly important novel for those seeking to know more of what's going on in modern day China. However, potential readers need to be cautioned that this isn't for the squeamish and it isn't entertaining. It's a graphic representation of horrors in communist China that are a result of the country's "one child" restriction. Ma Jian's novel is heart rending and one that could prompt nightmares after reading. It will make you sad and it will make you mad. It's also likely to make you I'd call this a vastly important novel for those seeking to know more of what's going on in modern day China.
It's also likely to make you feel helpless. There is a feeling of fantasy in much of the narration, but this will not relieve the deeply depressing affect it will have on you. I have to give it five stars because it is a vastly superior work of literature, but due warning of the unhappy nature of the book is also necessary.
Feb 10, Renee rated it it was amazing. Ma Jing wrote The Dark Road as he traveled through the rural backwaters of Southwestern China to see the effects of the one-child-policy. He met local woman who had been seized from their homes, and forced to undergo on the spot or clinic abortions and then handed a bill for the procedure, and have their house burned down if they could not pay the bill. Many times I found myself glossing over sentences and even paragraphs simply because what I was reading was too barbaric to even begin to imagi Ma Jing wrote The Dark Road as he traveled through the rural backwaters of Southwestern China to see the effects of the one-child-policy.
Many times I found myself glossing over sentences and even paragraphs simply because what I was reading was too barbaric to even begin to imagine. I have read many books on China but never one so affected me so deeply. May 20, Janet rated it really liked it. It is a well written but difficult read.
At times I was so sickened by the truth behind the story that I had to walk away and wasn't sure if I could finish it. It will make you thankful for your own life and you may start checking food labels more carefully.
Feb 16, Shelli rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction , to-review-or-comment , goodreads-giveaways , domestic-drama , places-cultures-asia , translated , environment-and-ecology. Review to be posted shortly! I received an advance reader copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways. Nov 01, Cate rated it really liked it Shelves: read-and-reviewed , library-available , 4-star-reviews , hard-copies , china. I read this book on the recommendation of a reader of my blog posts, and was glad I took the time to do so.
There is no fairy tale happy ending, this book is grim and full of atrocities almost as soon as you start reading; it lives up to its title very well. This is the first book I have read that was translated from Chinese and, although it made me squirm in places, it is inc I read this book on the recommendation of a reader of my blog posts, and was glad I took the time to do so. This is the first book I have read that was translated from Chinese and, although it made me squirm in places, it is incredibly well written and well translated.
The Author has written and developed some truly believable characters within this books covers, characters that can be both embraced and reviled by the reader. It is not light entertainment by any means, and contains graphic descriptions of the events that take place within its pages; one such being an abortion performed at eight months just recalling this passage makes me shudder anew.
The Author brings to the surface all that is wrong with the One Child Policy practiced in China, and makes the policy all the more disturbing as they skilfully convey to the reader that there is nothing they can do about this. This book is chilling, infuriating at times and almost unbearable to continue reading at others as it chronicles the inhumanity of the above mentioned policy, and the lengths that people will go to in order to avoid detection of their violation of this rule; most of all this is an incredible book with a wonderfully presented storyline written in a manner that will make you think about it long after you have closed the book for the last time.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to expand their reading sphere, providing they are not overly squeamish. To focus on less disturbing matters, the structure of this novel is interesting. Each chapter is headed with a number of keywords. I felt the same way about Gone Girl, but really, Gone Girl is a walk in the park compared to miscarriages, abortions, dead babies floating down polluted rivers and foetuses sold to restaurants as delicacies.
Does this stuff really happen? Perhaps a non-fictional treatment would have more of an impact. But is it well-told? The overall effect is that I distance myself slightly from the characters, and in doing so sacrifice some character empathy. I also struggled to place this story in time. The place was expertly drawn, if a seething, chemically dangerous rubbish-tip of a place was the aim.
Readers also enjoyed. About Ma Jian. Ma Jian.
Ma Jian was born in Qingdao,China on the 18th of August In , Ma moved to Hong Kong after a clampdown by the Chinese government in which most of his works were banned. He moved again in to Germany, but only stayed for two years; moving to England in where he now lives with his partner and translator Flora Drew. Ma came to the attention of the English-speaking world with his story Ma Jian was born in Qingdao,China on the 18th of August Ma came to the attention of the English-speaking world with his story collection Stick Out Your Tongue Stories , translated into English in His Beijing Coma tells the story of the Tiananmen Square protests of from the point of view of the fictional Dai Wei, a participant in the events left in a coma by the violent end of the protests.
Books by Ma Jian. Trivia About The Dark Road. Quotes from The Dark Road. The government persecute men, then men persecute their wives in return. And what do the wives do? Assuming the pilot is successful, there are plans to roll-out Glowing Lines globally.
- The Dark Road.
- Dark Road (song) - Wikipedia.
- The unDress Project?
- Production History.
- Uncertainties, Mysteries, Doubts: Romanticism and the analytic attitude.
- Babbling Barbarians: How Translators Keep Us Civilized: A Conversation with David Bellos.
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The Dark Road by Ma Jian – review
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