Dream of Ding Village - Yan Lianke - 04/19/2021 - 7:00pm

Dream of Ding Village


Presented in partnership with the UW Center for the Humanities as part of the 2020-2021 Great World Texts in Wisconsin program, Yan Lianke is a Chinese novelist frequently mentioned for the Nobel Prize for Literature; he’s often called the country’s most controversial writer. In this special virtual Humanities Without Boundaries talk, Yan will discuss his experiences researching and writing Dream of Ding Village, the prescient story of a public health crisis of the 1990s when rural villages selling their blood led to an AIDS outbreak. He will reflect on the novel’s perspective on pandemic profiteering, government corruption, as well as trauma and hope. 


Officially censored upon its Chinese publication, Dream of Ding Village was the result of three years of undercover work by Yan, who once 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. Yan’s virtual visit provides us an opportunity to ask the questions on all of our minds during this moment of global health crisis. How does the Chinese public health system work? What are the inner lives of the suffering and those who allow suffering? What do we do with our fear and uncertainty in a time of illness? And ultimately, what is our responsibility as participants in a public health crisis, and how can we respond here in Wisconsin?


During the 2020-2021 Great World Texts in Wisconsin program, teachers and students at 26 high schools throughout the state are reading Dream of Ding Village. Great World Texts connects scholars at UW-Madison with high school teachers and students across the state through the shared project of reading and discussing a classic piece of literature. Students from participating schools will also attend this event and will pose pre-submitted, translated questions to Yan during the audience Q&A. When you register, you can also submit a question for Yan. Preference will be given to those questions submitted by Monday, April 5. This allows time to synthesize and translate your questions.

Yan Lianke

Presenter photo

Drawing on his experiences in the military and the Cultural Revolution, Yan is a satirist and one of world's greatest chroniclers of modern Chinese society. Among many accolades, he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize, he was twice a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize, and he has been shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Man Asian Literary Prize, and the Prix Femina Étranger. He has received two of China’s most prestigious literary honors, the Lu Xun Prize and the Lao She Award.

Recent Book
Dream of Ding Village