Dream of Ding Village

Dream of Ding Village

3.0 5
by Yan Lianke
     
 

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Officially censored upon its Chinese publication, and the subject of a bitter lawsuit between author and publisher, Dream of Ding Village is Chinese novelist Yan Lianke's most important novel to date. Set in a poor village in Henan province, it is a deeply moving and beautifully written account of a blood-selling ring in contemporary China. Based on a

Overview


Officially censored upon its Chinese publication, and the subject of a bitter lawsuit between author and publisher, Dream of Ding Village is Chinese novelist Yan Lianke's most important novel to date. Set in a poor village in Henan province, it is a deeply moving and beautifully written account of a blood-selling ring in contemporary China. Based on a real-life blood-selling scandal in eastern China, Dream of Ding Village is the result of three years of undercover work by Yan Lianke, who worked as an assistant to a well-known Beijing anthropologist in an effort to study a small village decimated by HIV/AIDS as a result of unregulated blood selling. Whole villages were wiped out with no responsibility taken or reparations paid. Dream of Ding Village focuses on one family, destroyed when one son rises to the top of the Party pile as he exploits the situation, while another son is infected and dies. The result is 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.)
From the Publisher

“A powerful look at the AIDS scandal in Henan province during the 1990s when many people became infected with HIV after selling their blood at private collection centers, Yan’s evocative novel focuses on one family at the heart of the tragedy in the fictional Ding Village . . . Communist ideals battle against capitalistic impulses and human nature in this grand, layered novel, a must-read for anyone interested in present-day China.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Gripping, swift, heartfelt, occasionally exhilarating and often surprising . . . Like Albert Camus' The Plague, the novel works on more than one level, not only as a commentary on the growth of modern China but opening outward into an existential parable about what human beings think is important in this short, short life. All of us are living in Ding Village, infected with death and waiting out our days. In these lives, with a heightened awareness of death, every second counts, every bit of happiness matters. As they should in our own.” —Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness

“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… 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.” —Library Journal

“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.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Shortlisted for The Man Asian Literary Prize

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:
9780802119322
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
01/04/2011
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“A powerful look at the AIDS scandal in Henan province during the 1990s when many people became infected with HIV after selling their blood at private collection centers, Yan’s evocative novel focuses on one family at the heart of the tragedy in the fictional Ding Village . . . Communist ideals battle against capitalistic impulses and human nature in this grand, layered novel, a must-read for anyone interested in present-day China.” —Booklist

“Gripping, swift, heartfelt, occasionally exhilarating and often surprising . . . Like Albert Camus' The Plague, the novel works on more than one level, not only as a commentary on the growth of modern China but opening outward into an existential parable about what human beings think is important in this short, short life. All of us are living in Ding Village, infected with death and waiting out our days. In these lives, with a heightened awareness of death, every second counts, every bit of happiness matters. As they should in our own.” —Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness

“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… 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.” —Library Journal

“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.” —Kirkus Reviews

Shortlisted for The Man Asian Literary Prize

Meet the Author


Yan Lianke was born in 1958 in Henan Province, China. He is the author of many novels and short-story collections, and has won China’s two top literary awards, the Lu Xun in 2000 for Nian, yue, ri (The Year, the Month, the Day), and the Lao She in 2004 for Shouhuo (Pleasure).

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Dream of Ding Village 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
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Tigerloyal the news guy? Why?
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