A respected midwife, she combines modern medical knowledge with a healer's touch to save the lives of village women and their babies. After a disastrous love affair with a defector leaves Gugu reeling, she throws herself zealously into enforcing China's draconian new family-planning policy by any means necessary, be it forced sterilizations or late-term abortions. Tragically, her blind devotion to the Party line spares no one, not her own family, not even herself. Once beloved, Gugu becomes the living incarnation of a reviled social policy violently at odds with deeply-rooted social values. Spanning the pre-revolutionary era and the country's modern-day consumer society, Mo Yan's taut and engrossing examination of Chinese life will be read for generations to come. "Mo Yan deserves a place in world literature. His voice will find its way into the heart of the reader, just as Kundera and Garcia Marquez have." (Amy Tan). "One of China's leading writers...his work rings with refreshing authenticity. " (Time). "His idiom has the spiralling invention of much world literature of a high order, from Vargas Llosa to Rushdie." (Observer). Translated by Howard Goldblatt.