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Dream of Ding Village
     

Dream of Ding Village

3.0 5
by Yan Lianke, Cindy Carter (Translator)
 

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Banned in China, Dream of Ding Village is acclaimed Chinese novelist Yan Lianke’s most important and controversial novel to date— a passionate and steely critique of the rate at which China is developing—and what happens to those who get in the way.

Overview

Banned in China, Dream of Ding Village is acclaimed Chinese novelist Yan Lianke’s most important and controversial novel to date— a passionate and steely critique of the rate at which China is developing—and what happens to those who get in the way.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lianke (Serve the People!) confronts the black market blood trade and the subsequent AIDS epidemic it sparked, in a brilliant and harrowing novel. Ding village is ground zero for an AIDS epidemic that mushrooms after villagers are coerced into selling their blood and are subsequently infected by contaminated plasma injections. "Blood kingpin" Ding Hui amasses wealth and power, and nothing can stop him, not the murder of his 12-year-old son, Ding Qiang, who narrates from beyond the grave; or his dying brother, Ding Liang; or the pleas of his father, Ding Shuiyang. As the death toll climbs and coffins grow scarce, the survivors become enmeshed in petty rivalries, foolish schemes, and gossip. Shuiyang's dreams give him glimpses of the future, but the villagers won't listen, and soon they've chopped down every tree in town to build coffins, which leaves them without protection from the elements and allows Hui to further exploit the cascading disasters, culminating in a bizarrely booming business to assuage bereft parents by arranging marriages between dead young people that brings Qiang full circle. Carter does a crystalline translation of Lianke's brazen, unflinching portrayal of a community in the throes of collapse. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Censored in China, the latest novel by Yan (Serve the People!) to be translated into English is a brutal morality tale of a country undergoing transition; the citizens are mere "dogs, or chickens, or ants crushed underfoot" in a larger-than-life tragedy. China's plan to fill its blood banks reaches the poorest villages, where "bloodheads" convince desperate citizens to open their veins for quick cash. In the village named for his ancestors, Ding Hui becomes reigning bloodhead; his unsanitary practices eventually infect the villagers with "the fever"—HIV/AIDS. Because Hui is unrepentantly on to the next get-richer scheme, his 12-year-old son is murdered in retaliation; the boy omnisciently narrates from his school-side grave. Hui's brother, Liang, also becomes infected and desperately seeks one last chance at happiness. Hui's father, the de facto village leader—and a prescient dreamer—bears the guilt of Hui's avarice and Liang's disgrace. VERDICT Written after three years of clandestine research on a real-life blood-selling scandal that was widespread in China, this book shines another grim spotlight on China's abuses. Like his literary contemporaries Mo Yan and Yu Hua, Yan's unflinching irreverence makes this Schadenfreude tragedy essential reading.—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews

Inspired by real-life horrors, the allegorical tale of a poor village and a divided family destroyed by blood profiteering in eastern China during the early days of AIDS.

Ding Village, a town of 800 people located in the Henan province, finds a quick fix to its dire needs in the form of a plasma-selling scheme promoted by county officials. Money flows the way the Yellow River once did before changing course and leaving the village parched. But exposed to dirty syringes and tainted cotton, and eager to give blood more frequently than their bodies can tolerate, townspeople in increasing numbers come down with "the fever" and face certain death. Told from the grave by a 12-year-old boy whose grandfather is the deposed town leader and conscience, and whose father buys blood and resells it for a profit, the novel details the contamination of the town's moral as well as physical being. When the blood money tapers off, profiteers sell government-issued coffins to a select clientele, leaving villagers chopping down trees and taking apart the schoolhouse. The spirit of capitalism runs amok in the exhuming of dead little girls for "marriages" to dead little boys. Without raising his authorial voice and only gently indulging in satire, Yan Lianke (Serve the People!, 2007) conveys a sense of outrage at a bureaucracy that is so hungry for expansion that it is willing to sacrifice innocent lives to attain it. At the same time, the book draws sympathy to its flawed victims, including an infected couple whose adulterous affair "recaptured what it meant to be alive."

A sorrowful but captivating novel about the price of progress in modern China. The book, which was censored in that country, builds to an act of violence that resonates with the impact of Greek tragedy or Shakespearean drama.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802145727
Publisher:
Grove Atlantic
Publication date:
01/10/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
599,470
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

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Dream of Ding Village 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
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