Ballad of the Himalayas: Stories of Tibet
- About the Book
In this collection of short stories, Ma Yuan tells enigmatic tales about an eponymous narrator’s travels in Tibet that question the very meaning of “story” and our assumptions about meaning itself. Yang Xiaobin’s introduction explores Ma Yuan’s role as China’s first postmodernist author. Ma Yuan’s stories and novellas develop metafiction in synergy with Tibetan Buddhism’s notion of the cosmos as an illusion.
Ma Yuan is of interest for his cloaked allusions to the tortured relationship between Chinese and Tibetans. Where government propaganda portrays the Chinese as the liberators of Tibet, “Vagabond Soul” depicts Chinese economic exploitation of Tibetans—the Chinese narrator bribes a Tibetan beggar to steal rare a rare old Tibetan coin mold for the narrator to mold counterfeits. A Fiction” is a tongue-in-cheek allegory of the Chinese fascination with “primitive” Tibet: a Chinese narrator’s love affair with a nubile Tibetan leper.
An aficionado both of western postmodernist fiction and of traditional Chinese Daoism, Ma Yuan portrays the disorienting interaction of traditional Tibetan life and Chinese “modernization” so as to render absurd the rational premises of what we usually call “the modern world.”
- About the Author(s)
Ma Yuan, Author
Herbert J. Batt, Translator