The Noodle Maker: A Novel
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From Mi Jian, the highly acclaimed Chinese dissident, comes a satirical novel about the absurdities of life in a post-Tiananmen China.
Two men meet for dinner each week. Over the course of one of these drunken evenings, the writer recounts the stories he would write, had he the courage: a young man buys an old kiln and opens a private crematorium, delighting in his ability to harass the corpses of police officers and Party secretaries, while swooning to banned Western music; a heartbroken actress performs a public suicide by stepping into the jaws of a wild tiger, watched nonchalantly by her ex-lover. Extraordinary characters inspire him, their lives pulled and pummeled by fate and politics, as if they are balls of dough in the hands of an all-powerful noodle maker.
Ma Jian's satirical masterpiece allows us a humorous, yet profound, glimpse of those struggling to survive under a system that dictates their every move.
mother behind him, and devoted himself to her needs. They no longer behaved as they had done in the shed in the entrance passage, grunting cursory replies to each other’s questions, glancing at one another with contempt. They were now united in one action, bound together as intimately as a pair of identical twins. They breathed a sigh of relief. This quiet understanding was as comforting as the soft and warm white bones. The mother’s face glowed with maternal love. She was a woman who had sung
over her face and thighs. (She’d read in a magazine that the most expensive French face cream was manufactured from sperm, and always insisted that Old Hep rub the entire contents of his condoms into her skin.) When he was with the textile worker, he was able to ejaculate into her mouth then demand she swallow every drop. ‘On my face!’ the tigress growled, as the editor climbed back onto the bed and leaned over her. Old Hep noticed that there was very little sperm in his condom, and put it down
hours earlier. The pain was excruciating. He saw a sea of gold stars dart before his eyes. The female novelist kicked him again and Old Hep’s tired shoulders caved in. Then the novelist dragged him into the light, seated herself in her armchair, handed him his pink exercise book and told him to read from it the passages she had underlined in red pencil. Everything that happened after that had vanished from his mind by the time he was lying in bed, apart from his tearful confession, and his
A Japanese businessman investigated the Chinese breast market and decided to open the town’s first cosmetic surgery. Women were offered injections of fluid that swelled the breasts for three days. During this time, their boyfriends could fondle and squeeze them without causing any pain. These injections were ideal for women who were approaching their wedding night, or a date which promised a night of passion. The clinic was also able to heighten flat noses, cut creases into hooded eyelids,
of a foreign lawyer. His unusual bald head and long grey whiskers added to this air of a wise elder. He secretly saw himself as a holy messenger and prophet. He was optimistic about China’s implementation of the Open Door Policy, and agreed with the authorities that exhibitions of nude paintings weren’t in tune with the social climate of our country. When the Central Committee announced that they’d given a Chinese woman their personal consent to marry a French citizen, he praised their courage.