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Dream of Ding Village Hardcover – January 4, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.) (c)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* 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. Ding Hui grew rich buying blood from the villagers and exposed many to HIV by reusing needles. Hui’s father, Shuiyang, believes Hui should take responsibility for the illness that has swept the village, but even the murder of his young son doesn’t sway Hui. Hoping to atone for Hui’s crimes, Shuiyang gets permission to use the school as a hospice for the many sick villagers. What starts out as an idealistic experiment in which the infected villagers work together to make their lives easier crumbles before Shuiyang’s eyes as the small community is plagued by theft and a corrupt duo who seizes power, while Hui continues to prey on the villagers by selling them coffins donated by the government. Communist ideals battle against capitalistic impulses and human nature in this grand, layered novel, a must-read for anyone interested in present-day China. --Kristine Huntley

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119322
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #871,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Powerful. Sorrowful. The beautifully translated (just a guess that it's beautifully translated; I don't speak Chinese, but the book is wonderfully poetic and easily accessible) "Dream of Ding Village," is a striking novel. Set in rural China, the story revolves around a young man who makes a fortune buying blood from unsuspecting villagers. In his efforts to keep his costs down and profits up, he uses whatever equipment is available. As a result, he is thus responsible for transmitting disease, including AIDS, to all who sell him their blood. Does he profit from the blood-business? Does he care what happens to his family, his village, his own children, his own flesh and blood?

A wonderful, poignant read providing insight into human darkness and, perhaps, into bureaucracy and power in contemporary China.
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Format: Hardcover
Yan Lianke's latest work, Dream of Ding Village, is narrated by Ding Qiang: "I was only twelve, in my fifth year of school, when I died. I died from eating a poisoned tomato I found on the way home from school...I died not from AIDS, but because my dad had run a blood collection station in Ding Village ten years earlier. He bought blood from the villagers and resold it for a profit."
Qiang's narration details how the dirt-poor villagers were coerced into selling their blood at Government-sanctioned collection stations and even, literally, "in the field": the flattery or the appeal to patriotism that formed not the soft or hard sell, but the hard buy. Interspersed throughout the narration are the dreams of his Grandpa, Professor Ding Shuiyang: seemingly surreal but increasingly accurate and premonitory, from them we learn how, in the midst of abject poverty, bitterness and increasing hopelessness, some people's behaviour sinks to breathtaking greed, corruption and short-sightedness.
Qiang gets to see both sides of the coin as his father, Ding Hui, was a "bloodhead", who used criminally negligent blood collection practices, whilst his uncle, Ding Liang, contracted AIDS in the self-same place. Hui profits initially from buying and selling blood, then from selling Government-issued coffins to the families of the AIDS victims and developing Funeral Parks, then from matchmaking the dead so they will not be lonely in the afterlife. Dream of Ding Village portrays the death of the villagers and ultimately, the death of the village.
Filled with elegant prose, rich imagery, strong characters and allegory, Yan Lianke's work exposes the nepotism and greed rife in China whilst at the same time giving us poignant moments of love, self-sacrifice and humanity between the villagers.
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Format: Hardcover
In Yan Lianke's novel, Dream of Ding Village, a remote, agricultural village in China suffers from an AIDS epidemic. Ten years ago, the inhabitants of Ding Village sold their blood to blood collectors to increase their wealth and improve their standard of living. While the blood sales allowed the villagers to replace their traditional mud and thatch huts with two-story houses made of brick and tile, the unclean blood collection practices infected many villagers with AIDS. This novel's disturbing premise is based on the true story of the 1990s AIDS scandal in Henan Province.

The novel is narrated from the grave by the murdered son of Ding Village's primary blood collector. The dead boy describes the slow and painful deaths of the AIDS-infected villagers, as well as the actions taken by the villagers in response to the calamity. Some attempt to profit from the tragedy (stealing from the sick or selling coffins, for example) while others seek to alleviate the pain of the sufferers or to bring hope to the dying. Lianke's prose embodies a sing-song, repetitive quality reminiscent of an oral storytelling tradition, and the plight of the dying villagers is reflected and magnified by the parallel destruction of the village's land, which suffers from drought and neglect.

Dream of Ding Village occasionally loses focus and, near the end, approaches absurdity with a complicated subplot about arranged marriages between dead people. While a tighter narrative would have increased this novel's power, Dream of Ding Village remains a compelling portrayal of humanity's ever-present potential for self-destruction.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Dream of Ding Village" by Yan Lianke is a very well-written and well-translated book. The prose is easy to read and comprehend, despite the heavy subject matter.

The book is about a rural village suffering from the AIDS epidemic. The epidemic was brought to the villagers by unregulated entrepreneurs who bought blood from almost everyone in the village. There was an economic "boom" in the village that led to a major disruption in their farming lives. The father of the narrator was one of the most prolific and dangerous blood buyers. The book follows the reaction of villagers as he rises through party ranks to become a major corrupt politician in the county. His own father, the narrator's grandfather, struggles with his son's rise because he knows it was at the cost of the AIDS epidemic. The grandfather attempted a relief effort for the villagers, but otherwise, there was very little help from the government. Nearly every character in "Dream of Ding Village" is tragic in one way or another. Some of the descriptions are heartbreaking.

The author and the translator create wonderful images. Reading the book, it was easy to imagine the village's courtyards, threshing grounds, and the dusty paths leading to and from. The book is full of tragedies both great and small. It is certainly not for the faint of heart. Some reviewers have compared Yan Lianke to Camus or Kafka. Unfortunately, this book is neither absurdest nor allegorical. It is based on true, tragic events.
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