“The charm of the characters and simplicity of narration holds a lasting impression”
Simon Langton’s ‘Mao Mao’ is a short, yet deeply moving account of the bond that can arise between man, and his “best friend”- dog. When 18 year old Yan learns that her beloved Tibetan Mastiff, Mao Mao, is missing, she is distraught. Her father, being the important business man that he is, is able to find help, in the form of detective and dog-lover Kuam- a young, married man, who vows to solve the case of the missing dog, due, at least in part, to his growing feelings for the daughter Yan, with whom he shares the love and natural ability for handling dogs.
The novella is told, in part, from the perspective of Yan, as she suffers the emotional turmoil which news of her missing dog brings, and, in part, from the perspective of Mao Mao himself- as his abduction, by workers for the illegal dog meet business in Beijing, leads him to explore his own personal capacity for savagery, in the form of self-defence. In a style, reminiscent of Eric Knight’s ‘Lassie-come-home’, Langton describes the long and perilous journey made by dog, in an endeavour to be reunited with the one he loves, his owner Yan. Langton’s story tracks the dog, as he travels over hill and dale, across perilous highways and through hostile villages; despite his overriding fatigue, hunger and weariness- and encountering at points, various threats in the form of biker gangs, etc.
“Langton’s novella packs a punch”
The simplicity of the author’s voice, the narration and plot, leads me to conclude that the novel would be best fit for those in their early adolescence. Mimicking the compilation of Roald Dahl’s short stories, “skins”- with their dark twists and sinister endings- as well as being evocative of classic ‘Lassie-come-home’ in terms of subject matter and plot- Langton’s novella packs a punch. The charm of the characters and simplicity of narration, works to make the novel, although an easy read, one which holds a lasting impression.