Dream of Ding village 丁庄梦
A Novel by Yan Lianke阎连科
Published by Corsair and translated by Cindy Carter
Setting the Scene
The book is set in Henan province, central China, around the city of Kaifeng, during the early to mid-1990s.
“They dug me up so they could take me to Kaifeng and bury me next to my dead wife. “ (Page 310).
Kaifeng, situated in China’s Henan province on the banks of the Yellow river, once served as the Song dynasty capital (then known as Bianjing (汴京) and is thought to have been the world’s biggest city between 1013 and 1127. Much of its imperial splendor has been lost to the ravages of war, floods and rebellion, but it still retains one of the few remaining landmarks from that time, the magnificent Iron Pagoda (铁塔), built in 1049.
Another of its treasures is the incredible Qingming Scroll, painted by Song dynasty artist Zhang Zeduan (1085 – 1145), which captures the daily life of people from the epoch at the ancient capital, Bianjing; today’s Kaifeng.
Modern day Kaifeng is a pleasant city to visit, with lively night markets, interesting temples and pagodas and the added lure of finding traces of China’s tiny Jewish community. Huge skyscrapers, ubiquitous in most Chinese cities, are conspicuous by their absence: due to the wealth of ancient ruins and relics still buried under the ground, the digging of deep foundations is prohibited.
Strolling around sleepy Kaifeng, it is hard to believe that the villages and surrounding counties hide a dark secret that very few visitors will see, or even know about. In fact, any attempt by a foreigner to visit these places will immediately arouse the suspicions of local police and the security bureau. What are they hiding? [Read more →]