Knit 1, Read Too!: Dream of Ding Village
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 scandal in contemporary China. As the book opens, the town directors, looking for a way to lift their village from poverty, decide to open a dozen blood-plasma collection stations, with the hope of draining the townspeople of their blood and selling it to villages near and far. Although the citizens prosper in the short run, the rampant blood-selling leads to an outbreak of AIDS and huge loss of life. Narrated by the dead grandson of the village head and written in finely crafted, affecting prose, the novel presents a powerful absurdist allegory of the moral vacuum at the heart of communist-capitalist China as it traces the life and death of an entire community.
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.