Dream of Ding Village
By Yan Lianke
China's most controversial novelist on one of the biggest scandals in recent Chinese history - his defining work.
Told through the eyes of Xiao Qiang, a young boy killed by his family's neighbours, this seminal novel tells the tragic and shocking story of the blood-contamination scandal in China's Henan province.
Villagers, coerced into selling vast quantities of blood for money, are infected with the AIDS virus when they're injected with plasma to prevent the onset of anaemia. Whole villages are wiped out as the sickness spreads, but no one takes responsibility for the epidemic and nothing is done to care for those left behind. As Xiao tells of the fate of his village, his family is torn apart by suspicion and retribution.
This searing novel relates the tragedy of one village among many and the absurdity of a situation caused and perpetuated by the Chinese government. With black humour and biting satire, Yan Lianke's novel is a powerful allegory of the moral vacuum at the heart of Communist China, tracing the relentless destruction of a community.
'I come from the bottom of society. All my relatives live in Henan, one of the poorest areas of China. When I think of people's situation there, it is impossible not to feel angry and emotional. Anger and passion are the soul of my work.' Yan Lianke
Yan Lianke was born in 1958 in Henan province, where the blood-contamination scandal that features in this book happened. He is one of China's most established literary writers and his novels and story collections have won many of China's most prestigious literary prizes. He is also China's most controversial writer. His novel Serve the People!, also published by Constable, was banned for satirising the Cultural Revolution and became an underground internet sensation. The Death of Ding Village was stopped in its tracks with a 'no distribution, no sales and no promotion' order. The risk to publishers are now so high that Lianke doesn't know whether he'll be able to find a Chinese home for his next book. Yan Lianke was awarded the Hua Zhong World Chinese Literature Prize for his oeuvre in 2013.
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- Publication date:
03 Apr 2012
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The defining work of his career; not just an elegantly crafted piece of literature but a devastating critique of China's runaway development. — Jonathan Watts, The Guardian
One of China's greatest living authors and fiercest satirists. — Jonathan Watts, The Guardian
Powerful and shocking. — Big Issue