LARB Interview with Howard Goldblatt
SS: Did similar good fortune play a role in leading you toward Mo Yan?
HG: During a research fellowship year in Manchuria, I read a deeply affecting story of his. Soon after that, I ran into a friend who’d signed up half a dozen young writers, planning to publish story collections of each in English. Unrealistic. I saw he’d included Mo Yan, so I talked him into “releasing” him to me. No one told Mo Yan, of course. The following year, a friend sent me a copy of what would become in English The Garlic Ballads, and I was hooked. I wrote to Mo Yan, care of the now-notorious Writers Association, asking for permission to translate and locate a publisher. He had no idea who I was, but was happy to find a broader readership for his work. Before that happened, however, I read and fell in love with Red Sorghum, got his permission to switch, and, well, it was a good beginning.