It is difficult to comment on the translation of 2012 Nobel Prize Winner, Mo Yan, most notorious novel. A great percentage of the work in English goes to Howard Goldblatt, the book's translator.
Popular Chinese practices are described, such as the "wailers" -- professional mourners -- that even exist in the West. In some remote communities in Panama, these "plañideras," cry for pay in wakes. Mo Yan reminds us that in spite of geographical divides, humans tend to behave similarly.
Some descriptions are full of tenderness -- "…held Grandma's foot in his hand, as though it were a fledgling whose feathers weren't yet dry…"
The plot is always supported by the fields of Sorghum, which change colors and even shape, according to the actions of the characters, all of them very strong.
This is a novel that is almost a study of metaphors where the sorghum fields may be Mother Earth, who cannot do much to protect all her children.
This is not a work for readers that just want a plot that develops like a movie. This is for the serious, analytical reader.