Dream of Ding Village: February 2014

Join the Asia Center for a discussion of Yan Lianke's Dream of Ding Villagefeaturing discussant Professor Karen Thornber, Comparative Literatures and East Asian Languages and Civilizations.

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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 7 - 8 p.m.


Karen Thornber is Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University. Professor Thornber’s primary areas of research and teaching are world literature and the literatures and cultures of East Asia, particularly Japan.  She received her A.B. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University in 1996, with minors in East Asian Studies, Japanese Language and Literature, and Romance Languages and Literatures.  She received her Ph.D. in 2006 from Harvard’s Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations.  Her dissertation – based on extensive fieldwork in vernacular archives in Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan – won the International Convention of Asia Scholars (Leiden) Book Prize for the best dissertation in the field of Asian Studies, the American Comparative Literature Association’s Charles Bernheimer Prize for the best dissertation in the field of Comparative Literature, and the Achilles Fang Prize for the best dissertation in East Asian Humanities at Harvard University.

Accompanying Non-Fiction Reading:

PBS.org - China from the Inside - The Spread of AIDS in China: A slow acknowledgement of the "capitalism loving disease" by Meghan Laslocky

The Guardian - The AIDS scandal China could not hush up by John Gittings