The Noodle Maker – Ma Jian

When I first saw Ma Jian’s The Noodle Maker in the bookstore, I fell in love with its gorgeous cover. Besides, it was from a Chinese author, so I had to have it for my Read Around the World project. It’s true that now I know a little more about China, but I must say the book was quite strange. Ma Jian became the most pleasant discovery of the last months and, The Noodle Maker surprised me in many ways.


As I don’t like to spoil anything, I’m not going to talk about the subject of this book. But I can say that the characters are exceptional. You may want to read this book just for its characters and nothing else. Even though they seem irrelevant, their lives are interestingly connected. Ma Jian made sure to please his readers with his great talent on every page and with every character.

The Noodle Maker - Ma Jian

Great characters, saddening truths

However, reading women’s love stories and life was slightly annoying, and I even remember that I wanted to throw the book while reading some chapters. The author is such a persuasive writer that he can take your heart and play with it as he wishes.

If you are going to read this, and I hope you do, be prepared to be a little uncomfortable. There are many disgusting truths that we don’t want to see or hear, and it can be much more disturbing to listen to them especially from Jian’s characters. In addition to all this, I cannot say that the whole of the book contains topics that tire out the soul of man; there are also quite moving scenes, and it allows you to really get away from the real life.

If you’re looking for a happy book, this is not one of them. But if you want to experience how much an author can fascinate a reader, The Noodle Maker is the one you are looking for. Just make sure you read Ma Jian at some point in your life. He could surprise you so much.


About the book: The Noodle Maker

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 to harass the corpses of police officers and Party secretaries, while swooning to banned Western music; a heartbroken actress performs a public suicide by stepping into the jaws of a wild tiger, watched nonchalantly by her ex-lover. Extraordinary characters inspire him, their lives pulled and pummeled by fate and politics, as if they are balls of dough in the hands of an all-powerful noodle maker.

Ma Jian’s satirical masterpiece allows us a humorous, yet profound, glimpse of those struggling to survive under a system that dictates their every move.

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About the author: Ma Jian

Ma Jian was born in Qingdao, China, in 1953. He worked as a watch-mender’s apprentice, a painter of propaganda boards, and a photojournalist

The Noodle Maker - Ma Jian

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

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