Excerpt from Wolf Totem by Rong Jiang, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Wolf Totem

By Rong Jiang

Wolf Totem
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Mar 2008,
    544 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2009,
    544 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Chen Zhen could hardly believe his eyes as he watched the wolves frightened off by a pair of metal stirrups. As his courage made its belated return, he banged the stirrups together wildly, then windmilled his arms like a shepherd and shouted, “Hurry! Hurry! There are wolves everywhere!”

For all he knew, the wolves understood Mongol and knew the meaning of human gestures; perhaps they’d been frightened into dispersal by what they’d assumed was a trap laid by hunters.

But they dispersed in orderly fashion, maintaining the ancient organizational unity and group formation characteristic of grassland wolves: The most ferocious members serve as a vanguard, with the alpha male out in front, the pack’s larger wolves behind it. There is never any of the confusion commonly seen among fleeing birds and other wild animals. Chen was overwhelmed by the sight.

In a moment, the pack had vanished without a trace, and all that remained in the ravine were a white mist and swirling flakes of snow. By then night had fallen. Before Chen could step fully into the stirrups again, his horse took off like a shot, racing toward the nearest camp. Frigid air seeped into Chen’s collar and sleeves; the cold sweat on his body had turned to ice.

Having escaped from the wolf ’s maw, he became an immediate convert to the devotion paid to Tengger, just like his Mongol hosts. He also developed a complex attitude of fear, reverence, and infatuation toward the Mongolian wolf. It had touched his soul. How could it possess such a powerful attraction?

Chen did not catch sight of another wolf pack over the next two years. During the day he tended his sheep, occasionally spotting a lone wolf, maybe two, off in the distance. Even when he was far from camp, he never saw more than four or five at one time. Often, however, he came across the remains of sheep or cattle or horses that had been killed by wolves, individually or in packs. There might be one or two dead sheep, two or three cows, and maybe three or four horses; but sometimes carcasses would be strewn over a wide area. When he was out making calls on people, he regularly saw wolf pelts hanging on tall poles, like flags waving in the wind.

Excerpted from Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong. Translation Copyright © 2008 by Penguin Group USA. Excerpted by permission of The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...
  • Book Jacket: Toms River
    Toms River
    by Dan Fagin
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

    In Toms River, investigative journalist Dan Fagin ...
  • Book Jacket: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    by Gabrielle Zevin
    I feel like Gabrielle Zevin wrote this wonderful book, about a lonely New England bookstore owner ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  143Happier at Home:
    Gretchen Rubin
  2.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois

All Discussions

Who Said...

Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.