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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Yu Hua's post-Mao novel of the poor, rural Chinese who sell their blood to survive during the Cultural Revolution may sound melodramatic. It is. But because he produces such engrossing melodrama, Chronicle of a Blood Merchant is essential reading, providing readers with a highly accessible, soundly artistic novel of import from a postmodern writer at the forefront of Chinese letters.
The graphic portrayal of the Xu family's struggle in one of the darkest epochs of Chinese history is riveting. But Yu Hua's tale is equally folkloric as Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress; it is also subtly political and dark, but not irredeemably so. His Everyman protagonist, Xu Sanguan, with his simple language, operatically portrays the full spectrum of human life seen through a saturnine lens brightened by humor and irony. Love, sex, marriage, infidelity, family, poverty, and relative plenty -- all the universal elements of existence are revealed in the context of Chinese life and culture. And let's not forget the most important things, like honor and dignity, whose worth in this book is weighed by their cost -- in blood. (Winter/Spring 2004 Selection)