Read Frog Online

Authors: Mo Yan

Tags: #Historical, #General, #Fiction

Frog

BOOK: Frog
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Contents

Book One

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

Book Two

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Book Three

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Book Four

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Book Five

Frog

Act I

Act II

Act III

Act IV

Act V

Act VI

Act VII

Act VIII

Act XI

About the Author

Mo Yan was born in 1955 in Gaomi County in Shandong province, China. He is the author of various novellas and short stories and numerous novels including
Red Sorghum
,
The Republic of Wine
,
Big Breasts and Wide Hips,
Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out
and
The Garlic Ballads
. In 2012 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Howard Goldblatt is the award-winning translator of numerous works of contemporary Chinese into English. He has been awarded the National Translation Award from the American Literary Translation Association and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Dramatis Personae

Tadpole and Gugu’s family

 

GUGU
,
or
WAN XIN
,
midwife

JIN XIU
,
cousin of Xiaopao, business partner of Xiao Xiachun

LITTLE LION
,
Gugu’s medical intern

WAN DAKOU
,
or
WAN KOU
,
aka Eldest Brother, brother of Xiaopao, father of Wan Xiangqun

WAN LIUFU
,
father of Gugu, soldier and doctor, founder of the Xihai Underground Hospital

WAN MAN
,
sister of Xiaopao

WAN XIANGQUN
,
air force pilot, nephew of Xiaopao, son of Wan Dakou

WAN ZU
,
or
XIAOPAO
or
TADPOLE
,
nephew of Gugu

WUGUAN
,
cousin of Xiaopao

YANYAN
,
daughter of Xiaopao

Chen Bi’s family

 

AILIAN
,
mother of Chen Bi

CHEN BI
,
classmate of Xiaopao

CHEN E
,
father of Chen Bi

CHEN ER
,
daughter of Chen Bi

CHEN MEI
,
daughter of Chen Bi

Other Characters
(in alphabetical order)

 

TEACHER CHEN

DU BOZI
,
a villager/fisherman

FAN
,
carpenter

FANG LIANHUA
,
Wang Jiao’s wife

FLATHEAD
,
rafter, son of old classmate of Xiaopao

GAO MEN
,
village beggar

GENG XIULIAN
,
wife of Zhang Quan

HAO DASHOU
,
the clay-doll maker

HUANG JUN
,
aka Melon Huang, hospital director, the son of Huang Pi from Hexi Village

HUANG QIUYA
,
doctor at health centre, enemy of Gugu

DOCTOR LI

POLITICAL COMMISSAR LI

LI SHOU
,
son of Teacher Yu, younger schoolmate of Xiaopao

CHIEF LIU
,
Armed Forces Bureau

LU HUAHUA
,
village beggar

LU MAZI
,
civil administration clerk

LÜ YA
,
brigade commander

POSTAL DIRECTOR MA

NING YAO
,
commune security chief

QIN HE
,
brother of Qin Shan, beggar/actor, boat pilot, clay-doll maker

QIN SHAN
,
commune Party secretary, brother of Qin He

QIU
,
commune Party secretary (and Qin Shan’s successor)

SESAME TWIST
,
wife of Yuan Sai

DIRECTOR SHEN
,
Bureau of Health

COMMANDER SUGITANI
,
Japanese Army

SUGITANI AKIHITO
,
mentor to Xiaopao

TIAN GUIHUA
,
old midwife

WANG DAN
,
daughter of Wang Jiao, twin of Wang Gan, classmate of Xiaopao

WANG GAN
,
son of Wang Jiao, twin of Wang Dan, classmate of Xiaopao

WANG HUAN
,
the bean curd peddler

WANG JIAO
,
owner of a horse and cart, father of Wang Dan and Wang Gan

WANG JINSHAN
,
aka
OLD WANG
,
the school cook

WANG RENMEI
,
daughter of Wang Jinshan, wife of Xiaopao

WANG XIAOTI
,
Gugu’s fiancé, Air Force pilot, traitor

WANG XIAOMEI
,
a seventeen-year-old girl from Wang Village, Director Huang’s lover

SECRETARY WU
,
commune Party secretary, 1980s

WU JINBANG
,
school principal

XIAO BI
,
office manager of bullfrog farm, sculptor

XIAO SHANGCHUN
,
stretcher-bearer in the Eighth Route Army, commune granary watchman, Windstorm Rebel Corps Commander, enemy of Gugu, father of Xiao Xiachun

XIAO XIACHUN
,
classmate of Xiaopao, son of Xiao Shangchun, entrepreneur

XIE BAIZHUA
,
restaurant owner

XIE XIAOQUE
,
the son of Xie Baizhua

COMMANDER XU
,
Eighth Route Army

TEACHER XUE

YAN
,
assistant director of the commune

YANG LIN
,
county Party secretary

CHAIRWOMAN YANG XIN
,
family-planning committee

YANG XIONG
,
county chief, son of Yang Lin

TEACHER YU

YUAN LIAN
,
village Party secretary

YUAN SAI
,
son of Yuan Lian, classmate of Xiaopao

ZHANG JINYA
,
Party secretary of Dongfeng village

ZHANG QUAN
,
from Dongfeng village

Dear Sugitani Akihito sensei,

It has been nearly a month since we said goodbye, but I can relive virtually every moment of our time together in my hometown as if it were yesterday. With no concern for age or physical frailties, you crossed land and sea to come to this out-of-the-way spot and engage in literary conversations with me and with local fans of literature; we were deeply moved. On the second morning of the year, you favoured us with a presentation in the county guesthouse auditorium that you called ‘Literature and Life’. With your permission, we would like to publish a transcription of the taped lecture in the local publication
Frog Calls
, so as to make available to those who were unable to attend in person a chance to appreciate and learn from your use of language.

On the morning of the first day of the year I accompanied you on a visit to my aunt, an obstetrician for more than fifty years, and though she spoke too quickly in her accented Chinese for you to grasp everything she said, I am sure she left a deep impression on you. In your talk the next morning you cited her often in support of your views of literature. You said you came away with an image of a doctor racing across a frozen river on a bicycle; another of her with a medical kit slung over her back and an open umbrella in one hand, trouser cuffs rolled up, as she forces her way through a mass of croaking frogs; yet another of a doctor laughing joyfully as she holds a newborn infant in her hands, her sleeves spattered with blood; and finally one of a doctor with a care-laden face, a cigarette dangling from her lips, clothing rumpled . . . you said that all these mental pictures sometimes come together into a single image and at other times split into discrete fragments, like a series of carvings. You urged local literature fans to create poignant works of art out of my aunt’s life, either in fiction, in verse, or in drama. Sensei, your encouragement has produced a creative passion in many of us. An associate at the county cultural centre has already begun a novel about a village obstetrician, and though my understanding of what my aunt accomplished is much greater than his, I do not want to enter into a competition and will leave the writing of a novel to him. What I want to do, sensei, is write a play about my aunt’s life. On the night of the second, when we were talking as we sat on the kang at my house, I experienced an epiphany thanks to your high praise and detailed analyses, as well as your unique insights into the plays of the Frenchman, Sartre. I want to write, I feel I must write librettos as fine as
The Flies
and
Dirty Hands
, with the audacious goal of becoming a great playwright. With your instruction as a guide, I will proceed slowly, without forcing the issue, as patient as a frog on a lily pad waiting for insects to come its way. But when I put pen to paper, it will be with the speed of a frog jumping up to snatch an insect out of the air.

When I was seeing you off at the Qingdao airport, you asked me to send you in letters the story of my aunt’s life. Although she is still alive and well, I could describe her life using such potent metaphors as ‘surging forth magnificently’ and ‘rife with twists and turns’. There are so many stories, and I don’t know how long this letter ought to be, so with your indulgence, I will put my meagre talents to use by simply writing until the time has come to stop. In this age of computers, writing a letter with pen and paper has become a luxury, but a pleasurable one, and I hope that as you read this, you enjoy a taste of olden times.

While I’m at it, I want to tell you that my father phoned to say that on the lunar twenty-fifth, red blossoms burst onto the tree in our yard, the one whose unique shape prompted you to call it a ‘talented’ old plum. Many people came to witness our blooming plum, including my aunt. My father said that a feathery snow fell that day, saturated with a redolence of plum blossoms that cleared the head of anyone who smelled it.

 

Your student, Tadpole

21 March 2002, in Beijing

BOOK: Frog
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ads

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