Wolf Totem

Wolf Totem

Infobox Book |
name = Wolf Totem
title_orig = 狼图腾 (Láng Túténg)
translator =

image_caption = Cover of the first edition
author = Jiang Rong (pseudonym)
cover_artist =
country = People's Republic of China
language = Chinese; translations planned into 17 languages
series =
genre = Novel
publisher = Changjiang Literature and Arts Publishing House
release_date = April 2004
media_type = Print (Paperback)
pages =
isbn = 7535427308
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Wolf Totem" is a semi-autobiographical novel about the experiences of a young student from Beijing who finds himself sent down to the countryside of Inner Mongolia in 1967, at the height of China's Cultural Revolution.citation|title=A Novel, by Someone, Takes China by Storm|periodical=The New York Times|date=2005-11-03|accessdate=2007-04-20|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/03/books/03jian.html?ex=1168318800&en=2530cd3ee76a49de&ei=5070|last=French|first=Howard|authorlink=Howard French] The author, Lu Jiamin, wrote the book under the pseudonym Jiang Rong; his true identity did not become publicly known until several years after the book's publication.citation|periodical=The China Post|url=http://www.chinapost.com.tw/art/books/2008/03/11/146618/Chinese-ex-prisoner.htm|date=2008-03-11|accessdate=2008-03-14|title=Chinese ex-prisoner now global literary star|last=Bougon|first=Francois]


"Wolf Totem" is narrated by protagonist Chen Zhen, a young man in his 20s who, like the author, left his native Beijing to work in Inner Mongolia during the cultural revolution. [Jiang 2004] Through descriptions of folk traditions, rituals, and life on the steppe, "Wolf Totem" compares the culture of the ethnic Mongolian nomads and the Han Chinese farmers who settle in their territory, praising the "freedom, independence, respect, unyielding before hardship, teamwork and competition" of the former and criticising the "autocratic, sheeplike" nature of the latter. The book condemns the agricultural collectivisation imposed on the nomads by the settlers, and the ecological disasters it caused, and ends with a 60-page "call to action" disconnected from the main thread of the novel. The author states that he was inspired to begin writing "Wolf Totem" by an accident: he ignored the advice of the clan chief of the group of nomads with whom he was staying, and accidentally stumbled across a pack of wolves. Terrified, he watched as the wolves chased a herd of sheep off a cliff, then dragged their corpses into a cave. From then on, fascinated by the wolves, he began to study them and their relationship with the nomads more closely, and even attempted to domesticate one.citation|title=A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Beijing's Unwanted Best Seller|periodical=Der Spiegel|last=Kremb|first=Jürgen|url=http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,407184,00.html|date=2006-03-21|accessdate=2007-04-20]


"Wolf Totem" exhibited strong sales almost immediately after its release, selling 50,000 copies in two weeks; pirated editions began to appear just five days after the book first appeared on shelves.citation|last=Wu|first=Fei|title=姜戎:用半条命著《狼图腾》 (Jiang Rong: "I spent half my life writing "Wolf Totem")|periodical=Xinhua News|date=2004-05-26|accessdate=2007-04-20|url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/book/2004-05/26/content_1489801.htm] As of March 2006, it had sold over four million copies in China, and had also been broadcast in audiobook format in twelve parts during prime time on China Radio International. Despite the author's refusal to participate in any marketing activities, deals for adaptations of the novel into other media and translations into other languages have set various financial records. In August 2004, the Beijing Forbidden City Film Company purchased the movie rights to the novel for one million RMB; the "Beijing Youth Daily" described the movie version as China's highest-budget film as of 2005, and noted that the same special effects team which worked on "The Lord of the Rings" film trilogy had been contracted to work on the special effects for "Wolf Totem". The production team are aiming to complete the film in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.citation|url=http://bjyouth.ynet.com/article.jsp?oid=5498421|periodical=Beijing Youth Daily|title=《指环王》班底助阵特中国电影《狼图腾》 ("Lord of the Rings" team to assist with special effects for Chinese movie "Wolf Totem")|date=2005-06-07|accessdate=2007-04-20|last=Cheng|first=Ye] Jiang also released a children's edition of the book in July 2005, cut down from the 650 pages (540,000 characters) of the original (including a 60-page, 50,000 character "call to action" at the end) to roughly one-third the length.citation|title=姜戎将出《狼图腾》少儿版《小狼小狼》 (Jiang Rong to release "Wolf Totem" children's version "Little Wolfie")|periodical=Sina News|date=2005-08-10|accessdate=2007-04-20|url=http://book.sina.com.cn/news/b/2005-08-10/1103187938.shtml] Overseas, Penguin Books paid US$100,000 for the world-wide English rights, setting a record for the highest amount ever paid for the translation rights to a Chinese book; an unspecified Tokyo publisher paid US$300,000 for the rights to publish a manga adaptation, and Bertelsmann bought the German-language rights for €20,000. The author himself is looking forward to the translations; in his own words, he believes that "in the West they may understand [my book] more fully" than in China.citation|last=Spencer|first=Richard|title=Best-seller urges Chinese to release their inner wolf|periodical=The Daily Telegraph|date=2005-10-29|accessdate=2006-04-20|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/10/29/wchina29.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/10/29/ixworld.html]

A number of other writers took advantage of the author's anonymity to write fake sequels to "Wolf Totem", including two books both entitled "Wolf Totem 2", as well as the 250,000-character long "Great Wolf of the Plains" [Chinese title: 草原狼王. ISBN 7807013370] all with the imprint of the Changjiang Arts Publishing House. As a result, in April 2007, he issued a statement which denounced all such "sequels" as fraudulent; he indicated that he was doing research for another book, but would not be publishing anything new in the short term. [citation|last=Jiang|first=Rong|title=姜戎发表郑重声明揭露《狼图腾》伪书 (Jiang Rong issues serious statement denouncing "Wolf Totem" fakes)|periodical=Xinhua News|date=2007-04-12|accessdate=2007-04-20|url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/book/2007-04/12/content_5968063.htm]

Awards and critical reaction

Despite Jiang's stated refusal to attend any awards ceremonies or participate in any publicity activities, "Wolf Totem" has received more than 10 literary prizes, as well as other recognitions, including:

*Named as one of the "Ten Best Chinese-language Books of 2004" by international newsweekly "Yazhou Zhoukan" [citation|last=Zhang|first=Hailing|title=2004亞洲週刊十大好書揭曉 (Announcement of Yazhou Zhoukan's 10 Best Chinese Books of 2004|periodical=Yazhou Zhoukan|date=2005-01-16|accessdate=2007-04-20|url=http://www.yzzk.com/cfm/Content_Archive.cfm?Channel=as&Path=3314008411/03AS1.cfm]
*Nominee for the 2nd "21st Century Ding Jun Semiannual Literary Prize" in 2005 [citation|title=第二届“21世纪鼎钧双年文学奖”揭晓 (Announcement of the 2nd '21st Century Ding Jun Semiannual Literary Prize')|periodical=Sina News|date=2005-04-05|accessdate=2007-04-20|url=http://book.sina.com.cn/news/c/2005-04-05/3/182578.shtml]
*Recipient of the first Man Asian Literary Prize, November 2007 [citation|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7089513.stm|periodical=BBC News|title=Chinese author scoops book prize|date=2007-11-11|accessdate=2008-03-14]

However, "Wolf Totem" has also been the subject of several criticisms. German sinologist Wolfgang Kubin described the book as "fascist", and asserted that the ideas expressed therein had caused China to "lose face" in Germany. [citation|title=德国汉学权威另一只眼看现当代中国文学 (Authoritative German sinologist looks at contemporary Chinese literature with a different eye)|periodical=Deutsche Welle|date=2006-11-26|accessdate=2007-04-21|url=http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2249278,00.html] Later, Pankaj Mishra, reviewing the English translation for "The New York Times", faulted Lu's writing as "awkwardly paced" and "full of set-piece didacticism". [citation|title=Call of the Wild (Wolf Totem - Jiang Rong - Book Review)|last=Mishra|first=Pankaj|date=2008-05-04|accessdate=2008-05-04|periodical=The New York Times|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/books/review/Mishra-t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin]

Editions and translations

*First edition: citation|title=狼图腾|last=Jiang|first=Rong|publisher=Changjiang Arts Publishing House|location=Wuchang, Hubei|isbn=7535427308|date=April 2004
*Further editions:
**citation|title=狼圖騰|last=Jiang|first=Rong|publisher=Lee Man Publication|location=Hong Kong|isbn=9629881292|date=January 2005|language=Traditional Chinese
**citation|title=狼圖騰|last=Jiang|first=Rong|publisher=Feng Yun Publishing|location=Taipei|isbn=986146123X|date=January 2005|language=Traditional Chinese
*Children's editions:
**citation|title=小狼小狼 (Little Wolfie)|last=Jiang|first=Rong|editors=An Boshun (editor)|publisher=Changjiang Literature and Arts Publishing House|location=Wuchang, Hubei|isbn=7535430678|date=July 2005
**citation|title=小狼小狼 (Little Wolfie)|last=Jiang|first=Rong|editor-last=An|editor-first=Boshun|publisher=Feng Yun Publishing|location=Taipei|isbn=9861462406|date=December 2005|language=Traditional Chinese
*Korean edition (in 3 parts):
**citation|last=Jiang|first=Rong|last2=Song|first2=Hajin|title=랑 1: 초원의 바람 (Wolf 1: Wind on the Plains)|publisher=Dongbang Media|location=Seoul|isbn=8990488532|date=June 2006
**citation|last=Jiang|first=Rong|last2=Song|first2=Hajin|title=랑 2: 푸른 늑대 (Wolf 2: The Blue Wolf)|publisher=Dongbang Media|location=Seoul|isbn=8990488540|date=June 2006
**citation|last=Jiang|first=Rong|last2=Song|first2=Hajin|title=랑 3: 영혼의 부름 (Wolf 3: The Cry of the Soul)|publisher=Dongbang Media|location=Seoul|isbn=8990488559|date=June 2006
*Japanese edition (in 2 parts):
* French edition: citation|publisher=Bourin Editeur|date=31 January, 2008|title=Le totem du loup|last=Jiang|first=Rong|isbn=2849410810
*English edition: citation|publisher=Penguin|date=2008-03-27|title=Wolf Totem|last=Jiang|first=Rong|last2=Goldblatt|first2=Howard|isbn=1594201560citation|url=http://www.penguin.com.au/Rights/FICTION-2007.pdf|publisher=Penguin Books|location=Australia|date=2007|accessdate=2007-06-14|title=New and forthcoming titles and highlights from the backlist]
* Hungarian edition: citation|publisher=|date=2008-04-07|publisher=Magvető|isbn=9632540733|title=Farkastotem|last=Jiang|first=Rong [citation|title=Farkastotem a könyvfesztiválon|date=2008-04-17|accessdate=2008-04-28|periodical=Stop|url=http://www.stop.hu/articles/article.php?id=309855]
*German edition: Bertelsmann/Random House, forthcoming.
*Portuguese edition: Editora Sextante, forthcoming.
*Dutch edition: Prometheus, forthcoming.
*Italian edition: Mondadori, forthcoming.
*Greek edition: Psichogios, forthcoming.
*Hebrew edition: Kinneret, forthcoming.
*Turkish edition: Dogan Kitapcilik, forthcoming.
*Spanish edition: Alfaguara, forthcoming.
*Catalan edition: RBA Libros, forthcoming.
*Russian edition: Mir Knigi, forthcoming.
*Romanian edition: Curtea Veche, forthcoming.
*Slovenian edition: Zabzba Mladinska Knjiga, forthcoming.
*Serbian edition: citation|publisher=|date=2008|publisher=Alnari|isbn=978-86-7710-246-3 |title=Vuciji totem|last=Jiang|first=Rong

ee also

* Zhang Chengzhi, a senior of Jiang's at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who was also sent down to Ujimqin Banner during the Cultural Revolution and rose to fame through his writings about Inner Mongolia


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Wolf — (Canis lupus) Systematik Ordnung: Raubtiere (Carnivora) Überfamilie: Hundeartige (Canoidea) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Totem pole — Totem poles are monumental sculptures carved from great trees, usually cedar, but mostly Western Redcedar, by a number of Indigenous cultures along the Pacific northwest coast of North America. The word totem is derived from the Ojibwe word… …   Wikipedia

  • Totem — Totem, bei den Odschibwä in Nordamerika das Handzeichen, dessen sich die Häuptlinge statt der Namensunterschrift bedienen, und das meist in einem rohen Bilde des Tieres besteht, von dem die Sippe des Betreffenden ihren Namen trägt. Danach… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Eurasian Wolf — Taxobox name = Eurasian Wolf image width = 300px status = LC regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Mammalia ordo = Carnivora familia = Canidae genus = Canis species = C. lupus subspecies = C. l. lupus synonyms= [MSW3 Wozencraft | pages =… …   Wikipedia

  • Red Wolf (comics) — Superherobox| caption= character name=Red Wolf real name= Johnny Wakeley William Talltrees species= publisher=Marvel Comics debut=(Wakeley) ( Marvel Spotlight #1 (Nov 1971) (Talltrees) Avengers vol. 1 #80 (September 1970) creators=(Wakeley)… …   Wikipedia

  • Iranian Wolf — Taxobox name = Iranian Wolf status = EN image width = 250px regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Mammalia ordo = Carnivora familia = Canidae genus = Canis species = Canis lupus subspecies = Canis lupus pallipes trinomial = range range… …   Wikipedia

  • Lu Jiamin — Chinese title=Lu Jiamin c=呂嘉民citation|periodical=China Times|url=http://news.chinatimes.com/2007Cti/2007Cti News/2007Cti News Content/0,4521,110505+112008031100072,00.html|date=2008 03 11|accessdate=2008 03… …   Wikipedia

  • Totemism — • Constitutes the group of superstitions and customs of which the totem is the center Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Totemism     Totemism      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • List of best-selling books — This is an incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries. This page provides lists of best selling single volume books and book series to date …   Wikipedia

  • Man Asian Literary Prize — Awarded for Best novel written by a citizen of an Asian country and first published in English. Presented by Man Group Location Asia (limited) First awarded 2007 …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.