Now you can read *the* Chinese literary sensation

Although right-minded people aren’t feeling particularly Sino-friendly just now, Wolf Totem seems poised to bring East and West a bit closer. The novel by Jiang Rong (a pseudonym for Lu Jiamin, a former political prisoner) is finally being released in the U.S. after selling more than 2 million copies in China — with millions more bootlegs distributed via the black market.

The prize-winning book, based loosely on the author’s life, tells the story of Chen Zhen, a student in 1960s Beijing who abandons the city to live among the nomadic farmers in the Mongolian countryside. When the Maoist regime orders a revered and feared wolf destroyed to make way for collective farming, Chen becomes an unlikely hero.

While Wolf Totem could be enjoyed as just a simple, beautifully told tale, you might also finish it with fresh, singular insight into the complexities and subtleties of a country and culture that most of us don’t — but had better begin to — understand.

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This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here. Now you can read *the* Chinese literary sensation