Monday, January 24, 2011

Yan Lianke’s nightmare

I’ve written a review for The National of Yan Lianke’s grim, moving novel about blood selling in China, The Dream of Ding Village. Here’s the last paragraph:
Both of the books by Lianke which are available in English were banned in China. Perhaps it was this very censorship which inspired Western publishers to make them available. I hope, of course, that both books—and especially The Dream of Ding Village—will eventually be published there, so that Lianke’s own countrymen can read them. But I also hope that his other books—some of which have won major Chinese literary prizes and received wide acclaim there—will be translated and published abroad, so that those of us outside the country can discover whether they, too, are as compassionate and engaged as the ones we have, so far, been able to see.
Read the rest. As I mention in the review, Lianke has said he censored himself (removing references to senior officials and downplaying his critique of China's rush to development); the government banned the book anyway.

(Photograph of Yan Lianke by Jonathan Watts.)