Sandalwood Death is set in a rustic place resembling the author Mo Yan's own native village in Gaomi County, Shandong province. The story takes place during the Boxer Rebellion (1898–1901), an uprising of northern Chinese peasants in opposition to the growing Western influence. Artfully written in the style of the local folk opera Maoqiang, now almost forgotten, the main characters of the novel are Sun Bing, an opera singer, and Zhao Jia, his executioner, whose son is married to Sun Bing's daughter. Zhao is a great master of inflicting pain, a genius at administering a slow death by a thousand cuts, a great artist of the sandalwood death, able to keep his victim alive for five days while spliced on a sandalwood stake. Sun Bing, involved in the Boxer Rebellion as he attacked German soldiers, is sentenced to this cruel punishment.
Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, is one of China's most famous and prolific writers. He is the author of 11 novels and numerous short stories.
Please note: this is a book discussion, not a talk. The author will not be present.