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Jiang, Rong. 2008. Wolf Totem. Translated by Howard Goldblatt. New York: Penguin Press.

A semi-autobiographical novel about a Chinese student sent during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s to live as a herder in Inner Mongolia.

The broader context is the impact of population growth on the changing balance between agricultural and nomadic life and the inevitable destruction of the latter by the former.

The focus is the radically different worldviews of the two groups — the complex, long-term holistic perception of the nomads versus the one-dimensional, short-term emphasis on the farmers.

The main axis are the wolves: their pivotal role in regulating the ecology of the steppe, their impact on the consciousness and behaviour of both humans and animals, and their lasting imprint on the historical development of Mongolia and beyond.