Wolf Totem: A Novel

It is the final 1960s heyday for the people of the Inner Mongolian grasslands—a time when an age-old balance based on culture and tradition was maintained between the nomads, their livestock, and the wild wolves who roamed the plains.

Beijing intellectual Chen Zhen volunteers to live in a remote nomadic settlement on the border of Inner and Outer Mongolia. There, he discovers life of apparent idyllic simplicity based on an eternal struggle between the wolves and the humans in their fight to survive. Chen learns about the rich spiritual relationship, and respect that only equals can feel, that exists between these adversaries.

After many years spent living in solitude, Chen's peace of mind is shattered with the arrival of his kinfolk—Han Chinese, sent from the cities to bring modernity and productivity to the remote grasslands. Once the careful balance between the wolves and humans is disrupted, however, culture and tradition are damaged, and the environment suffers.

Reviews from Goodreads.com

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By Hadrian (The United States) · ★★★☆☆ · September 27, 2014
This is the second book I've read in two months which came from the period of the Cultural Revolution. It approaches the same themes from a different setting. A young schoolboy is sent down to the countryside and made to learn from the peasants.

But this story is something different - the young s... ...more
By Sue · ★★★★☆ · January 28, 2013
This has been a reading experience unlike any other for me. Through the eyes of a Chinese student, sent to Inner Mongolia as part of a volunteer program during the Cultural Revolution, we see a nomadic way of life as it has existed for centuries and as it is on the verge of it's death before encr... ...more
By Boof (Yorkshire, UK, The United Kingdom) · ★★★★★ · March 11, 2009
I finished this book 2 days ago, after having my head buried in it for 4 days and I just can't stop thinking about it. It is the most wonderful book and has shot straight into my Top 5 of all time.

From the very first page I was hooked. Jiang Rong creates such a vivid and compelling narrative that... ...more
By Grace (Jakarta, 04, Indonesia) · ★★★★☆ · January 19, 2010
"Old longings nomadic leap,
Chafing at custom's chain;
Again from its brumal sleep
Wakens the ferine strain."

The Wolf Totem, like The Call of the Wild, a book that it is often compared to, calls for a return to unfettered nature, with its individualism and harsh, but utterly logical values. The wolv... ...more
By Alice (Richmond, BC, Canada) · ★★★★☆ · March 09, 2015

I read the Chinese edition (original) of this novel and posted my review on June 18, 2008 on Asia Sentinel's website. I'm re-posting it here.

Before dwelling on the good points, let me just quickly point out the one thing that I found hardest to accept, and that is the author’s tendency to explain... ...more
By gieb (jakarta, Indonesia) · ★★★☆☆ · March 01, 2010
Serigala tiba-tiba menjadi harapan bagi Chen Zhen, pelajar muda dari Beijing yang akibat politik dikirim ke Olunbulag, sebuah daerah di pedalaman Mongolia. Dari seekor serigala, Chen Zhen tidak hanya belajar tentang pengetahuan, tetapi juga kearifan. Belajar tentang serigala, kita akan belajar te... ...more
By Faisal (Saudi Arabia) · ★★★★☆ · March 17, 2013
رغم أني استغرقت وقت طويل في القراءة وكدت أن أتوقف في أكثر من مرة ( خصوصاً في النصف الأول منها ) .. إلا أني بعد الانتهاء أشعر برضا تام عما قرأته .. رغم تحفظي على الإغراق في التفاصيل والإسهاب في أكثر من موضع بلا داعٍ ..
لا أبالغ إن قلت أن تجربتي مع سهوب منغوليا في هذا الكتاب تحمل ملامح كبير من تجربت... ...more
By Ethan (New York, NY) · ★★☆☆☆ · December 07, 2009
Apparently moving to China has slowed down my reading considerably.

Wolf Totem was a massive best seller here in 2005; despite being somewhat literary it broke every sales record the country has, short of Mao's little red book. It was also made into a movie that did equally well. I decided to chec... ...more
By Vaidya (Bangalore, 19, India) · ★★★★☆ · September 13, 2013
This is not easy reading. The writing is pretty simple, being a translation. But the content doesn't sit easy. Am not the kind who can sit through a documentary on wildlife easily; the bad news about habitat destruction and their being driven towards extinction comes soon enough.

I had to repeate... ...more
By Abdullah (Dubai, 03, The United Arab Emirates) · ★★★☆☆ · December 04, 2013
اذا لم تكن لديك قدرة على المطاولة فالرواية طويلة جداً ستمائة صفحة من القطع الكبير والخط صغير جداً مغرقة في التفاصيل ولكنها ملحمة إنسانية كاملة .. عمر من التجارب البيئية والإنسانية

الذئب العدو الذي ستجبرك الرواية على حبه .. والإنسان الحليف الذي تجبرك على كرهه

فائدتان رئيسيتان : الصين حاولت إجبار ك... ...more