the mudd up book clubb rolls into 2016 with Yan Lianke’s Dream of Ding Village (2006, trans. 2011). This book is a lot. It’s set in the rural Henan province where Yan grew up in a poor peasant family. Dream is an exquisite, queasy, and nuanced tale of a village dealing with ‘the fever’ & consumer communism — based on China’s real-life blood plasma-selling scandal that led to a massive AIDS crisis in the 90s.
Yan is a fascinating figure (“Ironically, it was after he joined the army as a propaganda writer that he realized the true value of literature and stopped regretting the loss of his first book, which he says now was an unworthy and uninteresting tale.”) and this is special one. Stay heavy over the holidays! (but there’s a strain of humor in it too…)