Stick Out Your Tongue by Ma Jian

Stick Out Your Tongue

Ma Jian

These short stories struck me as absolutely beautiful, which is odd because they are in many ways extremely gruesome. They will give you haunting pictures of a China and Tibet that you could never have imagined before you read them. These are also pictures that the government of China did not want people in the west to see. The book was banned in China and the writer lives in exile. Be prepared for blood, guts, sky burial, dried corpses and a landscape of open skies and piercing beauty.

Extract

Before the night wind started to blow, I spread out my sleeping bag and snuggled inside with my shoes still on. I lay on my back, stared into the black sky and thought about life and death. For Tibetans death isn’t a sad occasion, merely a different phase of life. But it was hard to understand the pilgrims who prostrated themselves for hours outside the temple gates, grating their heads on the ground. Why are men so afraid of retribution? I was hungry. My stomach was empty. A gust of air whirled through my abdomen and slipped out through my guts.

Parallels
  • Red Sky by Ma Jian
  • Last Seen in Lhasa by Claire Scobie
  • Ursula Under by Ingrid Hill

Books with similar mood

Age of Consent

Marti Leimbach

Murder Squad

Martin Edwards

Bahia Blues

Yasmina Traboulsi

Walk the Blue Fields

Claire Keegan

The Bride from Odessa

Edgardo Cozarinsky

Monsieur Linh and His Child

Philippe Claudel

Last Rituals

Yrsa Sigurdardottir

The Poetry Cure

Julia Darling and Cynthia Fuller (eds)

Ashes and Other Stories

Naomi Shepherd

Selected Poems

Galway Kinnell

Days Like Today

Rachel Ingalls

The Man I Became

Peter Verhelst

The Other Child

Charlotte Link

Sardines and Oranges: Short Stories from North Africa

Latifa Baqa and others

Earth and Ashes

Atiq Rahimi

Greenfly

Tom Lee

Fresh Apples

Rachel Trezise

The Colombian Mule

Massimo Carlotto

Tart Noir

Duffy/Henderson ed.

Ridin an Risin

Jacob Ross and Andrea Enisuoh (eds)

The Island

R J Price

Histories

Sam Guglani

Basket of Deplorables

Tom Rachman

Say Something Back

Denise Riley

Hiding in Plain Sight

Nuruddin Farah

It Was Just Yesterday

Mirja Unge

Detective Story

Imre Kertesz

The Scent of your Breath

Melissa P

Speaking With the Angel

Nick Hornby

Innocent World

Amy Sakurai

Vault - An Anti-novel

David Rose

Strictly Casual: Fiction by Women on Love

Amy Prior

A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You

Amy Bloom

Cove

Cynan Jones

Weatherman

Anthony Cropper

The Mussel Feast

Birgit Vanderbeke

Sunshine

Melissa Lee-Houghton

The Meursault Investigation

Kamel Daoud

The Testament of Mary

Colm Toibin

Cinnamon

Samar Yazbek

All the Lights

Clemens Meyer

Assorted Fire Events

David Means

Bedtime

Clare Pollard

A Life Elsewhere

Segun Afolabi

Cold Sea Stories

Pawel Huelle

Ten Stories about Smoking

Stuart Evers

Birthday Letters

Ted Hughes

The Beauty of the Husband

Anne Carson

When De Mark Buss

Geoffrey Philip and others