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The Noodle Maker

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  652 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
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
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 4th 2006 by Picador (first published 1990)
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Jan 08, 2013 Kris rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, china
Ma Jian is a Chinese writer and a dissident. He was born in 1953, so he is part of the generation of Chinese who lived through Mao's Cultural Revolution as children and young adults, as well as seeing the implementation -- and the limitations -- of Deng Xiaoping's Open Door economic policy. Ma has not been a silent observer of the myriad ways in which the Chinese government has cracked down on freedom of expression in Chinese society; he has been a member of the dissident community of Chinese ar ...more
Aug 27, 2012 Ema rated it really liked it
The Noodle Maker deserves way better than its current 3.33 rating (will or will not grow over time?).
It consists of several loosely interconnected short stories, sometimes with a touch of surreal, often with a delicious dark humor, and mostly absurd.

A satire of the Chinese society influenced by the Open Door Policy (instituted by Deng Xiaoping in 1978), this collection has an interesting array of characters: the failed writer who dreams of his big novel, but instead writes political-oriented ar
Let it be known that I did not read this under the best circumstances: short works give me trouble, short stories even more so, and what with the last few days consisting of the overbearing War and Peace competing with my current under the weather state, I in no way gave this introduction to a brand new author the attention it deserved. Ema and Kris do a far better job, and I am planning on coming back to Ma with Beijing Coma. But enough excuses.

Despite all that, I know dark satire when I see it
Dec 01, 2014 Lammoth rated it really liked it
За Китай може да се напишат хиляди страници със статистики и примери, но нито една страница няма да притежава силата на разказите от Ма Дзиен, от които може да получиш творческа клаустрофобия и да разбереш защо творците се задушават в подобни тоталитарни системи (или както по-точно може да се опише: авторитарен режим с капиталистическа икономика).

В един от разказите Ма Дзиен е описал тази система като ябълка. Писателят-червей яде по инерция от тази ябълка, оставяйки тъмно-кафяви тунели от изпраж
мини тяло
Apr 25, 2016 мини тяло rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Когато нямаме сили да се борим с този насилнически свят, обръщаме се към себе си и започваме сами да се нараняваме.

Гъсто, наситено повествование, герои, които отвращават и привличат едновременно. Тежка и болезнена книга, която реже като нож. После дълго се оглеждаме в прорезите. Когато я започнах, хладината на очертанията на въздуха почти ме беше заблудила, че зимата се връща. Дочитам я в едно лудо 48-часово денонощие, в което денят и нощта размиват границите си. Сега отвън се носи миризма на ля
Jun 18, 2013 Nick rated it liked it
"The Noodle Maker", for me, oscillates between two and three stars. The skill is undeniable--the occasionally lovely passage and, more importantly, full characters and a coherent, if shattering, vision. This is the post-Maoist, crony capitalism of the current People's Republic, and Ma Jian's dissection of it is withering. Two friends meet for dinner--a writer and a man who runs a blood-donation ring that supplies what the wealthy ill seek. Most of the novel is made up of stories that the writer ...more
Stephen Durrant
Jul 27, 2010 Stephen Durrant rated it really liked it
A scathing and sometimes funny portrayal of the period just after Deng Xiaoping's proclamation of the Open Door Policy and encouragement of capitalist initiatives. Suddenly every kind of small enterprise popped up, and ideals, whether traditional or Maoist, evaporated. Ma Jian satirizes this period with such characters as a professional blood donor, a young man who buys a pottery kiln and uses it for his own small cremation business, a woman who sacrifices herself on stage to a tiger as a piece ...more
May 22, 2016 Greta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Кошмарният сюреализъм на Ма Дзиен е велик.
Героите му са изтъкани от нескончаеми зависимости, които ги правят неспособни да се самоопределят в отсъствието на другия. Тези сдвоени персонажи - някои устойчиви, други лабилни и летливи - често проявяват (авто)агресия, което може да смути по-чувствителния читател. Краят беше великолепен и само заради него "Майсторът на фиде" заслужава далеч по-висок рейтинг от даденото му до момента (първи абзац на 184стр. - уау!).
Книгата е тежка, дори вулгарна, но ма
Moshe Mikanovsky
Sep 18, 2016 Moshe Mikanovsky rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
A courageous voice into the Chinese cultural revolution, painted with sad and miserable characters that don't know they are that way because of the brainwashing of the Party since they were born. The characters are sometimes named but more importantly defined by their occupation, their abuse, the sexist way they act towards others, and their relationship with the Party. Very powerful story telling.
Oct 22, 2009 Mel rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
"The Noodle Maker" by Ma Jian
The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian (1991, trans. from Chinese 2004 by Flora Drew) is the 3rd work I have read for Jeannie's Chinese Challenge. The Challenges runs from Sept 1, 2009 to Sept 1, 2010. I have posted prior to this on The Uninvited and Miss Chopsticks.

The Noodle Maker is set China, in the 1980s. It begins with two old friendly enemies having dinner together as they often do. One is a writer of articles for the government about heroic
Aug 03, 2016 Gasto rated it it was amazing
El título del libro, en su traducción al español, es "El escritor, las mujeres y el partido". Narra la extensa charla entre un escritor que quiere dejar LA gran novela y un donante compulsivo de sangre. Ambos, entre bebidas y cigarros, se critican y amigan, hablan de la vida y presentan sus puntos de vista. Tal situación sirve como excusa para relatar una serie de nueve cuentos que van desde críticas satíricas al régimen socialista chino, hasta cuentos de carácter ontológico, pasando por los que ...more
Apr 22, 2013 Bjorn rated it really liked it
Shelves: china
The Noodle Maker (2004) is set during the early 90s, in a China supposedly transformed by Deng's reform politics; everything is for sale now, you can go to McDonald's, you can start your own business feeding, clothing or burying your fellow comrades, women are learning to wear western makeup and men to expect them to. Of course, deep down, not much has changed; communism falling in Albania and Romania and the Tiananmen square massacre pretty much go unreported in favour of renewed efforts by the ...more
Jan 31, 2015 Vanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: Čína
Vítejte v překrásné nové Číně! Máme tu herečku, která si plánuje krvavou sebevraždu na jevišti, podnikatele, který provozuje starou keramickou pec jako krematorium a řadu dalších postav, které, z nedostatku možností se realizovat jinak, hledají smysl života v leckdy pokřivené lásce. Postavy, s nimiž nás autor seznamuje, jsou všechny do jisté míry vyšinuté: svými nepřiměřenými životními postoji jako by reagovaly na nepřiměřené podmínky, v nichž žijí. Kapitoly tohoto absurdního románu fungují jako ...more
Riley Edwards
Jan 30, 2013 Riley Edwards rated it really liked it
Absurd and engaging, this is an odd little book but an interesting one. I take it the writer is not well received by the Chinese administration and I can see why - it is deeply, satirically, critical about about the way the country is run. While its focus of subversion may be firmly set upon China, in many ways it is universal in its analysis of humanity. Well worth a read.
Jun 09, 2016 Lei rated it it was amazing
8 short stories, each like a fable, dark or sad, people struggle or survive or dead, with or without dignity, in a senseless world.
Jul 13, 2013 Aleya rated it it was amazing
Haunting and disturbing, but truly one that you must read. Like it should be magical realism, but this is not magic..just life. Definitely want to read more by Ma Jian
Feb 26, 2008 Rivka rated it it was amazing
Wins the I am uncomfortable and I am laughing and I am going to have bad dreams tonight award
May 30, 2017 T rated it it was ok
Shelves: asian, asian-author
Too deep for me, but a short book revolving around two old friends who meet weekly to share a meal and stories. One is wealthy from being a blood donor and shares his wealth in food for meals with his friend the writer. The writer tells the blood donor of his stories, written as chapters of the book. Each chapter providing a link or reference to characters in other chapters, constituting the writer's world.

Perhaps the most amusing to me is the chapter of the artist and his discussion with his 3
Lara Messersmith-Glavin
This is a wonderfully dark book, totally different in tone from every other work of fiction I've read from a Chinese author - probably because he's writing from London and not within the realm of the censors. His work was banned in China in 1987, and since then he has lived in Hong Kong, Germany, and now resides in England, where he continues to publish. I bought this book at a local Western bookstore here in Chengdu, so I can only assume it has survived the censors by virtue of being an English ...more
Nov 24, 2014 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure what it is with this book. I've had it in my shelf for at least some 10 years, and yet I only read it now. I remember starting it a bit after buying it, but for some reason never got too far. Even though the book is really short, too. I have no idea why. It is not like me to start a book and then not finish it. Even when I don't like the book. And this one wasn't even bad. But now I did finish it, and I'm not sure I am too glad about it.

Now, the reason for my mixed feelings is tha
Jan 09, 2014 Kkraemer rated it really liked it
Two friends have dinner together regularly. They've been friends since they met in the re-education camp when they were in their teens, and these dinners have a sort of ritual to them: one always gripes about something, the other listens, they both eat, they both drink, and their conversation turns to comparing their lives and the contributions they've made to society.

The writer was chosen when he was young. He's lived the Party life with a salary and an apartment. He has spent his life writing
May 05, 2013 Melanie rated it it was ok
Although this book gives you several glances of the "less pretty" side of the Chinese culture, I must say that I found it dull, boring and awfully pornographic.
The book's main story is one of two guys who meet once in a week to share meat and mead, using this opportunity to discuss a couple of aspects of the world around them. One of the guys is a blood donor by profession, the other is a writer who has absolutely no brilliant ideas for his book about the government. Apparently what give the boo
Aug 05, 2016 Claire rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What a creative way to tell these short stories, in the context of modern Chinese history. (I do not believe that the backdrop of Ancient Chinese History, which was 311, while Modern was 301 for whatever reason, was of much use.) Now that I am actually clearly thinking about it, I recall absolutely ADORING what Ma Jian did here.

You might be warned there are a few awfully unfortunate happenstances detailed within these pages, but if those can't faze you, I particularly enjoyed Ma Jian's The Noodl
Aug 02, 2011 Robert rated it really liked it
This was recommended to me by Rudina as my first post-grad school reading, and I'm glad she did. It is prickly and dark, and takes an absurdist yet clear-sighted look into China as it began to open up at the end of the 1970's to capitialism and the West. The stories are bleak and painful, as strange mutations of the entreprenurial spirit take root amongst those who had been so long pressed down and paralyzed by the crushing weight of the modern Chinese government. The insights into the human str ...more
Mielőtt megírtam volna ezt, mások értékelését olvastam és nagyjából egyetértettem. Tényleg abszurd történetek ezek, bizonyára a nyitás utáni Kínából… és? Nekem nem sikerült felfedeznem a mély irodalmi értékeit sajnos. Lehet, hogy Kínában vagy Kínáról megírva ez egy számottevő teljesítmény, nem tudom megítélni. Nekem a két, a kis történeteket keretbefoglaló szereplő parttalan filozofálgatása üresnek hatott, a történetek pedig inkább egy középiskolás fantáziavilágára hasonlítottak, hogy milyen új ...more
Dec 29, 2014 Jo rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure whether to give this four or five stars. It's not a 'feel good' book, though there is a strong satirical humour woven throughout. Parts of it felt so deeply dark that I couldn't read more than a chapter in a sitting, but needed a break to digest all the feelings and questions it evoked! But that appeals to me! The book certainly brings you face to face with a raw kind of humanity, a damaged, deranged humanity struggling with the meaning of life and death. In so doing it exposes some ...more
Nicole M.
Mar 27, 2016 Nicole M. rated it liked it
What: Set in China, The Noodle Maker is a sort of mosaic story made of many little stories, that all end up tying together to the professional writer and the professional blood donor eating their dinner together in the writer's apartment. They aren't stories of very average citizens, though, and it makes a strange sort of cat's cradle as it goes.

So?: This is eerie. Indeed, it's a sort of satire, but that doesn't negate that it's downright creepy. Its many twisted characters end up weaving a mess
Aug 03, 2014 Henry rated it it was ok
Shelves: china
"The Absurd is more real than life itself."

This sentence is scribbled down on a newspaper by one of the many characters in this book. And Ma Jian apparently tried to provide a "real" picture of the Chinese society in the early 1990s by writing a set of interconnected absurd stories. But it does not come together. All the three legged dogs, voluntarily cremated and tiger suicides rather provide an insight into Ma Jian's mind than into Chinese society.

If you want to read this, because you have an
Mar 02, 2012 Elie rated it really liked it
I was totally surprised by Ma Jian's writing. This book is unsettling, and it's a good thing.

It shakes you out of your daily routine, away from pink flowers and teddy bears to throw you into a reality we too often forget.

The Noodle Maker captivated me from the beginning to the end, though its reading was somehow difficult because it made me face things I didn't know, and things I'd rather not have come to know.

I was glad I didn't stop reading it after the first pages, I forced myself to go on
Rajiv Chopra
Jun 01, 2014 Rajiv Chopra rated it liked it
Shelves: current-fiction
This book is set somewhere in the times that China was coming out of the Mao era, and details the changes in society taking place at that time, through a series of stories of the people at the time.
The stories seem to take place in the background of dinner conversations between two friends, the writer and the blood donor.
The stories are dark, quirky and somewhat eccentric. I would not say that they are terribly clear or interesting or amusing, however. A bit obtuse, and could have been much bet
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Ma Jian was born in Qingdao,China on the 18th of August 1953, not much is known or revealed about his early and formative years.

But in 1986, Ma moved to Hong Kong after a clampdown by the Chinese government in which most of his works were banned.

He moved again in 1997 to Germany, but only stayed for two years; moving to England in 1999 - where he now lives with his partner and translator Flora Dre
More about Ma Jian...

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“Când nu mai avem puterea să ne luptăm cu lumea asta sălbatică, ne întoarcem în noi și începem să ne facem rău nouă înșine...” 0 likes
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