Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “檀香刑” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.18  ·  Rating details ·  679 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Cina 1900: provincia dello Shandong. Sun Bing è un ribelle per caso, che si ritrova a guidare una rivolta di contadini a fianco dei Boxer, la società segreta cinese nemica delle potenze imperialistiche straniere. Ma Sun Bing non è solo un contadino in guerra contro un potere piú grande di lui, e da cui sarà atrocemente punito. È anche un artista, è un uomo che vive di cant ...more
Paperback, 1st, 418 pages
Published January 1st 2017 by Zhejiang Publishing House of literature and Art (first published 2001)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about 檀香刑, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Xixi father. gongdieh is father-in-law and gandieh is like sugar daddy.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  679 ratings  ·  107 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of 檀香刑
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yan,

Palpitation! The word itself brims with mystifying sounds. The flip-flopping of the heart muscle attuned to the ambience of the twelve tone symphony, fingers smoothly gliding over the chromatic keys of a piano, the steady tempo of the inherent music fluctuating within the irregularities of variable frequency of the cardiac rhythm, the fleeting pause descending into the pentatonic scales of a violin finding its way into the emptiness of a skipped heartbeat, synchronize the tingling of a body. The
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maoqiang Opera (Chinese: 茂腔; pinyin: Màoqiāng) is a local folk opera style (performed live on-stage) from the Jiaozhou area of Shandong Peninsula (Jiaodong Peninsula) in eastern China. 'Sandalwood Death' pays homage to Maoqiang and is written in a style reminiscent of this traditional Chinese art form.

In the Author's Note at the end of the book, Mo Yan writes "In the same way that Maoqiang cannot be performed in grand halls alongside Italian opera or Russian ballet, this novel of mine will likel
Boysie Freeman (not my real name, it's just my Internet name)
Excruciating and beautiful, but not for weak stomachs.

I’ve read Sandalwood Death/Tanxiang Xing in both Vietnamese (my native language) and English. It is understood why Mo Yan could not achieve the level of fame he deserves in the West – I remember that year when Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in 2012, most of my Murakami fans I know back then were truly disappointed. Murakami writes more universally – they do not require much of a background understand, but Mo Yan… not so much.

Anyway I am not makin
sometimes even a very fine work just does not translate.

if you're planning to become a Mo Yan reader, you really must know a few things about Chinese history and culture, else it's all going to be mystifying to you. for this book, you really should know something about Chinese opera and the Boxer Rebellion.

Mo Yan says in an afterword to this book that he wrote it with two rhythms in mind: the rhythm of trains, and the rhythm of Maoqiang opera. i suspect the original Chinese version of this book
Yaqiao Li
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a musical opera with blood in the air.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Both the author and the translator admit in the preface and afterword that this novel is impossible to properly translate. Yet even through a linguistic gauze screen, Sandalwood Death is a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese fiction and of outstanding literary translation.

Set in the same remote township in which his other novels take place, at the turn of the 20th Century, an executioner, an opera performer turned rebel, their married children--a butcher and a dog meat seller--and a county magis
Gustavo Vazquez
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm almost speechless... this is a masterpiece. I haven't read a book so incredible for a long, long time. In fact it's something so unique... brilliant... and the translation is amazing. I have nothing else to say. This book is beyond words. ...more
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just love the novel to pieces! First, it gives me a rough picture of what it must have been like when the fall of Qing Empire loomed ahead. The hardship people had to encounter, political and social turmoil, xenophobia, persecution by Western nations who came to China in order to reap benefits, etc. Some historical figures are mentioned as well, e.g. Empress Dowager Cixi and Yuan Shikai, who triggers some interest in me to the extent that I have to research more about him and his dominance on th ...more
Simon Wong
Dec 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is the very first one that Mo Yan tries to savor modern style of fiction writing in telling a story, a story again staged in his hometown Gao Mi, as most of his works do.

In this novel main characters voice one by one in their own perspectives towards an event from varying spots of timeline, mixed with recallings of their personal experiences which are key to the very event about to happen. Due to such a overlapped narrative, even the main plot can be mapped out earlier in the process of book
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chinese, fiction-read
Loved it, loved the setting, the characters, the dialogue, the way he organized the chapters, the filth, the comedy, loved everything.
Kevin English
This is my first Mo Yan whose name means "don't speak" in Chinese. It’s an interesting novel, however it does a require a little bit of knowledge of Chinese culture and history. It focuses on events and characters during waining years of the Qing Dynasty and Boxer Rebellion (around 1890ish). The use of multiple narrators is effective in getting us into the mindsets of the different classes each character represents.

My only complaint is that the end of the book seemed to drag. The ending is setup
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! One of the more amazing reading experiences I have had in a long time. I understand how he won the Nobel prize for literature. My brain will be distracted for days with sensory overload. Loved the convoluted relationships of the main characters even when they were doing truly terrible things to each other.
Yee-Ning S.
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the first novels where the writing was not merely played out and spoken in my head, but rather played out and sung/recited scene by scene. Each chapter unfolds from a different perspective... almost like characters coming on stage and giving their personal commentary on events. The timing of the book slowly builds momentum and hurtles headlong towards the final scene.
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
finished - harrowing - not sure I'll be able to shake this one off - be careful, this book is for real ...more
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic book, but not for the faint of heart. The Chinese title translates to "Sandalwood Torture," and torture figures prominently (and vividly) in this novel. Still, it beautifully written. ...more
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read it in Chinese. Mo Yan said it's a book about sound. I totally agree. The "Poems" are really good. I can smell the mud. ...more
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read it in Chinese. It is a shock. The history of China at the end of Qing dynasty, and the fate of emperors, influential officials, and ordinary people, are overlapped and twisted in one story. The characteristics of each person is delicately painted. The cruelty and humanity, the righteousness and instinct of self-protection, the benevolence and strong desire for living, contrast and sometimes co-exist in those people. The people under threat fight, scream, trying to change their fate, but t ...more
Kate Campbell
Nobel Prize-winner Mo Yan, one of China's most recognized literary artists, offers the tale of execution and those who do the job, it's not pretty work and it's not an engaging endictment of pre-Communist China. It's set during the Boxer Rebellion -- 1898 to 1901 -- and casts the characters against an anti-imperialist struggle waged by North China's farmers and craftsmen who oppose Western influence. The story is as embellished as a Russian novel, filled with lyrical, sensual imagery, but the st ...more
Bob Anderson
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This excellent historical (though close to The Good Lord Bird in exactness of historicity) novel is set around the events of the Boxer Rebellion, with five narrating characters. An opera master, magistrate, executioner, butcher, and dog meat restauranteur have complex relationships with each other, pairing off in various operatic ways and spinning towards an excruciating finale. Each chapter narrated by one of them comes alive with their unique voice, showcasing each one as a fantastic character ...more
S.A. Bordelais Agapé (S.A.B.A)
I quite like novel based in the 19th century / beginning century in China.
As usual as discover some tradition and habit that Chinese people had in term of family hierarchy, food etc.
I would not say that it is a must read, but I would still recommend it.
... greatest book I have read in years. Very vivid language, earthy, drawn from own experience and history.
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: doorway-story
A brutal, brutal story form the Nobel Prize winner.
So glad it's over!
Read for book club.
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel, reads-of-2013
I read it in Chinese. It is definitely an influential story. The writing is vivid and engaging, which makes some parts too painful and cruel to read.
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fantastic story for those who share "an affinity with the common man," ...more
Good, but absolutely disgusting. Know a bit about the Boxer Rebellion before reading.
Vasi Maier
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
compared to MVL, Mo Yan maybe the only other author capable of killing so many characters.
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please combine 5 83 Mar 29, 2016 02:08AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Chronicle of a Blood Merchant
  • The Three-Cornered World
  • To Live
  • Soul Mountain
  • The Miracles of the Namiya General Store
  • Quicksand
  • I Am a Cat
  • M. Il figlio del secolo
  • Call to Arms 呐喊
  • Ba Người Khác
  • Along the Tapajós
  • Nouvelles de Petersbourg
  • How the Steel Was Tempered
  • Le Colonel Chabert
  • Adrienne Mesurat
  • Los enamoramientos
  • Strange Beasts of China
  • Le Dieu nu
See similar books…
Modern Chinese author, in the western world most known for his novel Red Sorghum (which was turned into a movie by the same title). Often described as the Chinese Franz Kafka or Joseph Heller.

Mo Yan (莫言) is a pen name and means don't speak. His real name is Guan Moye (simplified Chinese: 管谟业; traditional Chinese: 管謨業; pinyin: Guǎn Móyè).

He has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 for hi

News & Interviews

Sally Thorne, author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine, explores what it means to take risks for love, and for yourself, in her newest...
106 likes · 11 comments
“The dead are noble, the living worthless.” 2 likes
More quotes…