yan lianke
Yan Lianke
YAN LIANKE was born in 1958. He is the author of a huge number of novels and story collections, all remarkable for both their subject matter and their style. He has received many literary prizes, the most prestigious: the Lu Xun in 2000 and the Lao She in 2004.

The film adaptation of DREAM OF DING VILLAGE, renamed TILL DEATH DO US PART, was released in China on May 10 2011, starring Zhang Ziyi and Aaron Kwok. From acclaimed director, Changwei Gu, it was promoted at the Hong Kong International Film Festival and received excellent reviews (it's still awaiting clearance by the Chinese censorship board). The next novel to be published in English by Chatto & Windus, Grove Atlantic and Text Australia, being translated right now by the great Carlos Rojas is HARD LIKE WATER, a satire about love and revolution: a soldier decides to leave his unit and return to his hometown to contribute to the Cultural Revolution. Back home, he meets a young woman and they fall madly in love, despite both already being married, their sexual infatuation is interwoven with their revolutionary fervor. Rights to HARD LIKE WATER also sold to Editions Philippe Picquier France (publication 2020/21). HARD LIKE WATER has already been published to great success in Vietnam and Japan. It has been awarded an English PEN grant.


An excellent in depth article on Yan Lianke, his work, his life appeared in the New Yorker: YAN LIANKE'S FORBIDDEN SATIRES OF CHINA
















Personal, subtly political, philosophical and with Yan Lianke’s characteristic touches of humour. The linked reminiscences open with the question “Who Am I?”, which the author answers with the anecdote of returning as a famous writer from the big city to his small village, Tianhu, in Henan province, and being greeted by his mother, all his aunts and uncles and the villagers. The last section of the book, focussing on his profound regrets about his behaviour towards his father, and his father's early death, are very powerful indeed. We also get a fascinating glimpse into life during the cultural revolution, the extreme poverty Yan Lianke and his family endured, and to Yan Lianke’s time in the army. This is a touching memoir, full of wisdom, humour, humility and love for the family to whom the author owes everything.

'Fragile and mysterious, the collection highlights the humane. Connecting the texts: the sense of sacrifice, a hereditary, double-edged force…. Once you have discovered the flamboyant work of Yan Lianke, you are all ears, on high alert, waiting for further translations.' Telerama


Yunnan People’s Press China

INK Taiwan

Grove Atlantic USA

Text Australia

Editions Philippe Picquier France (abridged version)

Nottetempo Italy (abridged version)

Chatto & Windus UK

Material: Chinese, French edition (120pp)

the day the sun died (Rixi)
Book image


‘This exuberant but sinister fable confirms its author as one of China’s most audacious and enigmatic novelists’ The Economist

‘A brave masterful novel.’ The Irish Times

Yan Lianke's powerful dystopian novel, narrated by a teenage boy, is set during a single night in a remote Chinese village... The underlying political message, that China is sleepwalking to disaster ... But there is so much colour in the book, as the sleepwalkers act more and more oddly, that politics seems secondary. Poignant and unsettling’ Mail on Sundaythe day the sun died us cover

'It’s a remarkable novel – open, like most good novels, to a variety of interpretations. The events described are incredible; the atmosphere all too believable.' The Scotsman

'This is a riveting, powerful reading experience.' Publishers Weekly *

'As dreamscape realized, however horrible, Yan’s novel belongs in the company of Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo and even James Joyce’s Ulysses.' Kirkus

'Lianke shows an incredible mastery of words, both brilliantly humorous and offbeat, making this novel a gripping read.' Booklist

'The Day the Sun Died is a powerful, captivating work of art.' South China Morning Post

'The Day the Sun Died is an allegory, but it isn’t just for China.... No matter where we live, this is our story, too, or could be, if things don’t change.' Ploughshares

‘Yan is one of those rare geniuses who finds in the peculiar absurdities of his own culture the absurdities that infect all cultures . . . [The Day the Sun Died is] the creepiest book I’ve read in years: a social comedy that bleeds like a zombie apocalypse . . . Yan’s understated wit runs through these pages like a snake through fallen leaves . . . Invokes that fluid dream state in which everything represents something else, something deeper . . . A wake-up call about the path we’re on.’ Ron Charles, Washington Post

‘Effortlessly blending metaphor and allegory, symbolism and satire, Yan has crafted a distinct literary work of dystopian satire, a blend of bruising bureaucratic critique with a sly postmodern pastiche of realism, absurdism and the grotesque.’ Los Angeles Times

‘Gripping . . . Yan’s subject is China, but he has condensed the human forces driving today’s global upheavals into a bracing, universal vision.’ New York Times Book Review

‘This brutal satirical novel takes place on a single night, when a plague of somnambulism unleashes a host of suppressed emotions among the inhabitants of a Chinese village. The ensuing chaos is promptly struck from the official record. Reviewing it, Julian Gewirtz calls it a “gripping novel” that “forces readers to reflect on the side of the world that is ‘too absurd, too cruel and too unpleasant.’ … Yan’s subject is China, but he has condensed the human forces driving today’s global upheavals into a bracing, universal vision.”’ New York Times Book Review, 11 New Books We Recommend This Week

‘The provocative Chinese writer Yan Lianke offers a different sort of collective dream in his gripping novel…’ New York Times

Yan Lianke has secured his place as contemporary China’s most essential and daring novelist, ‘with his superlative gifts for storytelling and penetrating eye for truth’ New York Times Book Review. His new novel - winner of the Dream of the Red Chamber Award, one of the most prestigious honours for Chinese-language novels - is the haunting story of a town caught in a waking nightmare.

In a little village nestled in the Balou mountains, fourteen-year-old Li Niannian and his parents run a funeral parlour. One evening, he notices a strange occurrence. Instead of preparing for bed, more and more neighbours start to appear in the streets and fields, carrying on with their daily business as if the sun hadn’t already set. Li Niannian watches, mystified. As hundreds of villagers are found dreamwalking, they act out the desires they’ve suppressed during waking hours. When the community devolves into chaos, and it’s up to Li Niannian and his parents to save the town before sunrise.

Set over the course of one increasingly bizarre night, The Day the Sun Died is a propulsive, darkly sinister tale.



Ryefield Taiwan

Grove Atlantic USA

Brilliance Audio North America

Text Australia

Chatto & Windus UK

Automatica Spain

Kawade Shobo Shinsha Japan

Philippe Picquier France

Material: Chinese, English editions (342pp)

Years Months Days US cover


THE YEARS MONTHS DAYS: An extremely powerful fable and one that every child, adolescent and adult knows in China – as relevant today as when he first wrote it. A terrible drought hits the population of a small mountain village and they flee to better climes. Incapable of marching for days, one old man stays behind, accompanied by his blind dog, keeping watch over his single ear of corn. Every day, for the old man as well as for the dog, is a victory over death. This is a book of great power and beauty. It’s a hymn to life. Luminous, intense and moving, this universal story, of magnificent power, execution and emotional clout, reads like an homage to all that is good in mankind.

MARROW: A tale of grotesque cannibalism in a small village in the Balou Mountains of China's Henan Province. In the story, a mother takes extreme measures to provide her four mentally disabled children with a normal life. She feeds them a medicinal soup made from the bones of her dead husband when she finds out that bones 'the closer from kin the better' can cure their illness. When she runs out of her husband's bones, she resorts to a measure that only a mother can take.

THE YEARS MONTHS DAYS and MARROW published together in one volume in the US by Grove Atlantic

‘Yan Lianke creates imaginary wounds in real blood. . . His books read like the brutal folklore history couldn’t bear to remember, and his characters feel stranded, forgotten by time. . .like Beckett’s most memorable characters. . . Desolation has rarely seemed so sensual, so insistently alive. . . Yan’s vulgarity is the flip side of his sensuality, and recalls Upton Sinclair’s line about aiming for his readers’ hearts and hitting them in the stomach.’ New York Times Book Review

'Apocalyptic, eerie visions by much-honored Chinese writer Yan . . . [The Years, Months, Days] would do Friedrich Dürrenmatt proud . . . Inspired, one imagines, by the terrible headlines of famine, climate change, and simple uncertainty; Yan draws on the conventions of folklore and science fiction alike to produce memorable literature.’ Kirkus Reviews

'An accessible and fascinating introduction to the work of this novelist,The Years, Months, Daysis a moving fable deserving of a wide readership.' The Irish Times

'Compelling ... Dexterously rendered by Duke professor Rojas (Yan's anointed translator), this work again directs the author's unflinching gaze on life's impossible absurdities, exposing a surreal mixture of brutality, openness, even sly humor . . . Provocative.'—Library Journal (starred)

‘Lianke’s talent for the fantastical shines in this collection of two novellas. Though they contain dark subject matter, Lianke’s fables of personal sacrifice are also sharply observed and funny. Lianke’s narratives feel much larger than their page count suggest, almost epic.’ Publisher’s Weekly (starred)

‘Yan Lianke paints vivid scenes of desolate circumstances with an incredible mastery of words and control of his imagery. His masterpieces are sure to engage readers.’ Booklist (starred)

‘A pair of shape-shifting novellas . . . finds the Chinese master at the top of his game. . . Witty, sardonic, and full of rich irony . . . [Yan] Lianke’s pair of works, while set in rural China, offer a golden opportunity to reflect on our own fraught times. His satirical eye and generous heart are finely rendered in Carlos Rojas’ superb translation. These are tales to savour.’ Toronto Star

‘Emotionally loaded stories . . . It’s hard not to be moved by the running theme of self-sacrifice. . . [The Years, Months, Days] pays homage to the fated generation upon whose flesh and bones modern China was built.’ Wall Street Journal (best new fiction)

About MARROW published by itself:

'A masterpiece.' Colm Tóibín

'This short read is a marvelous addition to the China Specials series, and is a welcome - and quick! - addition to any collection of Chinese literature.' Asian Review of Books

About YEARS MONTHS DAYS published by itself:

‘A lyrical tale about the force of life.’ Monde

‘What a hopeful book Yan Lianke has made out of the very essence of hopelessness. What a cry for life and human dignity.’ The Age and The Syndey Morning Herald

‘China’s foremost literary satirist.’ Financial Times

‘His talent cannot be ignored.’ New York Times

‘Yan Lianke is one of the most popular and controversial writers of his generation.’ La Repubblica


China (initially published in Harvest Magazine), various editions

Editions Philippe Picquier France

Grove Atlantic USA

Text Australia

Vintage UK

Polirom Romania

Automatica Editorial Spain and Latin America

Nottetempo Italy

Sinbad Russia

Hakusuisha Japan

Jaguar Kitap Turkey

Al Arabi Egypt

Material: Chinese and French editions, English editions (116pp)

the explosion chronicles (Zhalie Zhi)
Explosion Chronicles US



'As much a parody of communist rule in China as a devastating critique of capitalist excess, power, greed and self-destruction, Yan’s novel is nothing short of a masterpiece.' Guardian

'A hyper-real tour de force, a blistering condemnation of political corruption and excess masquerading as absurdist saga.' Financial Times

'Exuberant and imaginative' The Sunday Times (Ireland) Must Reads

'[Yan’s] fiction has lampooned some of the darkest moments in ChineseEXPLOSION CHRONICLES UK COVER history. . . . In this latest work, however, Yan shifts his irreverent gaze from the past to the present and toward projections of the future, taking stock of China’s vertiginous economic rise and the astonishing dissolution of its collective social conscience. . . . The formal inventiveness of The Explosion Chronicles is impressive and its fictional universe vividly drawn. . . . I can think of few better novelists than Yan, with his superlative gifts for storytelling and penetrating eye for truth.' The New York Times Book Review

'The Explosion Chronicles is not as unrelentingly dark as The Four Books, but it may be even more politically daring. The official line on the Great Leap Famine is that it was a disaster, but that the government’s culpability for it should be downplayed. The official line on the post-Moa boom is that it has helped China to move steadily towards a national revival. In Explosion brightly hued roses may bloom out of season when something good happens, but the vision is closer to a nightmare. Even the most majestic of sights in this novel are distractions designed to mask the pervasive moral rot that lies beneath the surface.' Times Literary Supplement

'The Explosion Chronicles, a satirical extravaganza by Yan Lianke, brilliantly translated by Carlos Rojas, has its roots firmly embedded in Chinese reality. In an uproarious cavalcade of boom and (Yan hints) bust, the four Kong brothers and their resourceful womenfolk mastermind the ascent of their home town. Explosion becomes China in microcosm, as it “replicated in miniature the pain and prosperity undergone by the nation itself”. The novel’s farce, fantasy and fun stay just a step or two ahead of China’s gravity-defying truth. Not surprisingly, Yan’s work has been repeatedly banned in China.' Boyd Tonkin, The Economist

'This darkly absurd history trucks freely with the fantastic . . . but many of the more brazen events are taken straight from the news . . . Yan’s burlesque of a nation driven insane by money is equally a satire of some of the excesses of the Chinese Revolution.' Wall Street Journal

'Welcome to “mythorealism” and Yan Lianke’s extraordinary novel. The Explosion Chronicles wields a different take on reality to present a provocatively illuminating and perceptive insight into contemporary China.' The Sunday Times

'Mordant satire from a brave fabulist' Mail on Sunday

'A rip-roaring Swiftian satire from a contemporary Chinese master. . . .Yan Lianke, one of China’s most forthright and versatile novelists, enlists extravagant comedy and far-fetched fable to propel his critique of a society where ‘power and money have colluded to steal people’s souls.’. . . The reader slips into a literary China of poetry and mystery that flourished long before the boom. The Economist

'An epic page-turner . . . a multi-layered marvel . . . combining unflinching observation [and] stinging satire . . . Yan’s mesmerizing ability to pull readers into this raw, subversive, not completely fictional world will continue to build his international audiences.' Library Journal (starred review)

'The Explosion Chronicles is both madcap satire and engrossing dynastic epic, as three rival clans compete to turn the idyllic Chinese village of Explosion into a booming megacity.' Good Housekeeping’s Hot Reads

The remote village of Explosion, nestled between Henan province’s Yi River and the Balou mountains, was founded a thousand years ago by refugees fleeing a devastating volcanic eruption. In the post-Mao era, the name gains new significance as the community grows exponentially to become a vast metropolis. Behind this rapid expansion are members of three prominent families. Kong Mingliang is a conman and a thief who builds a fortune by robbing trains. His rival is former secretary Cheng Qing, the founder of a powerful political and industrial dynasty. Then there is Zhu Ying, the daughter of the village chief and a former prostitute, who now runs a chain of brothels. An unholy but unbreakable alliance between Kong and Zhu usurps her father and places Kong at the head of the community as the town’s first mayor.

This is a brilliantly acerbic portrait of modern China and a world driven mad by the twin forces of power and money. Brimming with absurdity, intelligence and wit, Yan Lianke examines the high stakes and low dealings of passion and power, the consequences of greed and corruption, the polarising dynamics of love and hatred between clans, and the seemingly unstoppable excesses of capitalism. Forming a loose trilogy with LENIN’S KISSES and THE FOUR BOOKS, THE EXPLOSION CHRONICLES is a smart, flamboyant and poetic tale of ambition, lies and vice from China’s master satirist.

‘Yan Lianke paints a metaphorical and absurd portrait of contemporary China so obsessed with growth that her moral values have been left by the wayside… a  great novel of rare profundity.’ Le Monde

‘Yan Lianke is, together with Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan and Yu Hua, one of the most important Chinese writers today.  With THE EXPLOSION CHRONICLES he gives us a surprising, fantastical vision of the upheavals in China over the last thirty years.’ Rue 89


Shanghai99 China


Rye Field Press Taiwan


Grove Atlantic USA


Chatto & Windus UK


Text Australia


Verzone Czech Republic


Editions Philippe Picquier France


Kawade Shobo Japan


Automatica Editorial Spain & Latin America


CAN Turkey


Atlantis Sweden


Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy Poland


Religio d'Agua Editores Portugal


Cappelen Damm Norway


Material: Chinese and French editions (370pp); English editions

The Four Books US cover






‘One of the masters of modern Chinese literature, Yan Lianke gives all the pleasures one gets from reading. He can extract humour from the bleakest situation. I whole-heartedly recommend this latest book’ Jung Chang

'It's a Chinese novel hailed across the planet as a masterpiece, and I'm normally the first to resist such an imposition before I've even opened the thing - but for once, the hype doesn't go far enough... a devastating, brilliant slice of history' The Times

'Arch and playful... [Yan Lianke] deploys offbeat humour, anarchic set pieces and surreal imagery to shed new light on dark episodes from modern Chinese history... brave, brilliant novel' Financial Times

'A rightly lauded masterpiece... an extraordinary book.' Irish Times

'A biting satire about Chinese re-education camps during the Great Leap Forward that’s as haunting as it is eye-opening... Yan has created a complex, epic tale rife with allusion. He effortlessly moves from Eastern to Western references, and even readers without a background in Chinese history and culture will find his story fascinating and immersive. The novel is a stinging indictment of the illogic of bureaucracy and tyranny, but the literary structure is tight and the prose incredibly accessible. Readers will have difficulty putting this down.' Publishers Weekly

'An Orwellian satire... Richly rewarding. As a reader you close the book with a profound sense of how ideology has permeated and changed every sector of collective human life, from trivial daily matters to the great ruptures of history.' Guardian

From master storyteller Yan Lianke, winner of the prestigious Franz Kafka Prize and a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize, The Four Books is a powerful, daring novel of the dog-eat-dog psychology inside a labor camp for intellectuals during Mao’s Great Leap Forward. A renowned author in China, and among its most censored, Yan portrays the absurdity and grotesquerie of this devastating political movement that led to the Great Famine, a controversial subject for nearly half a century.

In the ninety-ninth subdivision of a sprawling re-education compound, free-thinking artists and academics are detained in order to strengthen and affirm their loyalty to Communist ideologies. Here, in this isolated part of Henan province, the Musician and her lover the Scholar—along with the Author and the Theologian—are forced to carry out grueling physical work and are encouraged to inform on their campmates for dissident behavior. The prize: winning political favor and the chance at freedom. They’re overseen by a preadolescent supervisor, the Child, who delights in draconian rules, reward systems, and excessive punishments, such as confiscating treasured books.

But when the “higher-ups” raise the agricultural and industrial production quotas to an unattainable level, the camp dissolves into lawlessness while the intellectuals exhaust themselves to meet their goals, even attempting to increase wheat growth by fertilizing the crop with their own blood. And then, as inclement weather and famine set in, they are abandoned by the regime and left alone to survive.

With his characteristically incisive, lyrical prose, Yan Lianke melds political satire and allegory in this riveting, formidable novel. Divided into four narratives—echoing the four texts of Confucianism and the four Gospels of the New Testament—Yan’s mythical, sometimes surreal tale cuts to the bone in its portrayal of the struggle between authoritarian power and man’s will to prevail against the darkest odds through camaraderie, love, and faith.

'Yan Lianke is one of the best contemporary Chinese writers.' Independent

A searing, allegorical view of Chinese society during some of the darkest moments of the Mao era… Yan cements his reputation as one of China's most important—and certainly most fearless—living writers.’ Kirkus

'A powerful satire on ideology, veering between the grotesque and the horrific.' Financial Times Recommended Summer Read

'One of China’s eminent and most controversial novelists and satirists.' Chicago Tribune

'Yan Lianke well deserves to be in the Pantheon of great writers. He has no equal at attacking societal issues or the great Maoist myths in order to turn them into novels so breathtakingly powerful, shot through with black, often desperate, humor.' Le Monde Diplomatique

'Bleak but powerful, disturbing yet compelling' The National

'Yan Lianke has produced one of contemporary Chinese literature's richest, wittiest, most seductive and powerful novels.' The Saturday Paper

'A scathingly effective satire.' The Thousands

‘Regarded as one of China’s most acclaimed yet controversial writers, Yan is known for his poignant satire and piercing language in covering China’s darkest history… while he is highly critical of the characters’ flaws and weaknesses, he treats them with love, sympathy and understanding.' South China Morning Post

'A writer whose work has shown a constant commitment to honesty… The novel’s fascinating narrative structure, its ugly events and allegorical characters make for a thought-provoking read, but – above all – it is this honesty of intent that is Yan’s most remarkable achievement.' Litro

‘Lianke shows how a few forgotten and even banal lives can reach the heights and depths of suffering and emancipation. The result is a rich and multi-layered novel, a novel whose narrative prowess is rivalled only by its grandness of vision.' Express Tribune

No other writer in today's China has so consistently explored, dissected and mocked the past six and a half decades of Chinese communist rule... . An extraordinary novel, one that both commemorates the state's victims and defies China's state-sponsored amnesia. Guardian

Stupendous and unforgettable ... a devastating, brilliant slice of living history. The Times

'A brilliant historical novel' Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

'Astonishing... Structurally and stylistically Yan Lianke's most accomplished work' Tages-Anzeiger


Rye Field Press Taiwan

Jaeumgwa Moeum Publishing Korea

Chatto & Windus UK

Editions Philippe Picquier France

Grove Atlantic USA

Brilliance Audio North America

Text Australia

Font Forlag Norway

Verzone Czech Republic

Tiderne Skifter Denmark

Eichborn Verlag Germany

Atlantis Sweden

Nottetempo Italy

Galaxia Gutenberg Spain

Taodanbooks Vietnam

Iwanami Shoten Japan

Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy Poland

Material: Chinese and French edition, ENglish editions (338pp).

Lenin's Kisses US Cover









'A satirical masterpiece.' Kirkus Reviews

'Lenin's Kisses is a grand comic novel, wild in spirit and inventive in technique. It's a rhapsody that blends the imaginary with the real, raves about the absurd and the truthful, inspires both laughter and tears. Carlos Rojas's translation captures the vigor of the original, funny, poised, peculiar but always rational. The publication of this magnificent work in English should be an occasion for celebration.' Ha Jin, author of Waiting and Nanjing Requiem

“I read Lenin’s Kisses, a fierce, funny, painful and playful novel by a great Chinese writer; Yan Lianke. It is much more than just a poignant, daring political parody: it is also a subtle study of evil and stupidity, misery and compassion.” Amos Oz, New York Times

'A masterpiece on many levels, most pertinently literary. It is crafted in the most lyrical prose style, and in an intimate voice filled with poetic flourishes and narrative craftsmanship. This is a tale of modern China with all its wonders, marvels and absurdities and ironies roped together, making it a must-read. It's little wonder that the author has won both China's equivalences of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. And this book is the finest gem to reflect this man's gift.' Da Chen, author of My Last Empress

Nestled deep within the Balou mountains, by and large spared from the government's watchful eye, the people of Liven enjoy harmonious days filled with enough food and enough leisure to be fully content. But when their crops are obliterated by an unseasonal snowstorm, and with it their means of earning an income, a county official arrives with a lucrative scheme to not only raise money for the district, but to boost his career as well. He convinces the village to start a travelling act showcasing their talents, which are unlike anything he has ever witnessed. The majority of the one hundred and ninety-seven villagers are disabled, and their skill sets include Blind Tonghua's acute listening, One-Eye's one-eyed needle threading, and Deafman Ma's firecrackers on the ear.

With the profits from this extraordinary show, the county official intends to buy Lenin's embalmed corpse from Russia-where it is slowly decaying from lack of upkeep-and install it in a grand mausoleum to attract tourism. In the ultimate marriage of capitalism and communism, such an incredible acquisition would not only benefit the inhabitants of Liven, but the entire region. No citizen of Liven would need to work again and an improved sense of harmony would exist. However, even the best intentions go astray, and the success of the Shuanghuai County Special-Skills Performance Troupe comes at a serious price.

Yan Lianke, one of China's most distinguished writers, whose works often push the envelope of his country's censorship system, delivers a humorous, daring, and riveting portrait of the trappings and consequences of greed and corruption at the heart of all humanity.

‘Yan’s postmodern cartoon of the Communist dream caving to run-amok capitalism is fiendishly clever, in parodying the conventions of fables and historical scholarship. The ghost of another famous dead Russian, Nikolai Gogol, hovers over the proceedings in spirit, if not in economy of means.’ New York Times

'Both a blistering satire and a bruising saga, this epic novel by Yan (Dream of Ding Village) examines the grinding forces of communism and capitalism, and the volatile zones where the two intersect... Yan boldly plunges into the psychic gap between China's decades-old conditioned response to communist doctrine and its redefinition of itself as a capitalist power, creating with bold, carnivalesque strokes a heartbreaking story of greed, corruption, and the dangers of utopia.' Publisher's Weekly

'Yan's novel expresses humanity's innate weakness, as well as the tragic condition of rushing headlong down a dead-end road in an attempt to extricate itself from an impossible situation. The work's depth lies in its ability to express an unbearable sorrow, even while constantly making the reader laugh out loud. We can hereby announce that China has published a truly miraculous novel.' Hong Kong Mingpao Weekly

‘The award-winning novelist Yan Lianke is one of China's most interesting writers and a master of imaginative satire... Lenin's Kisses is an absurdist historical allegory of the money-making fever that swept China after Deng Xiaoping opened up the Chinese economy in the 1990s. [Lianke] has advised writers to confront censorship with "art, not politics" [and] this innovative novel, with its wit, humanity and satire, sets a provocative example.’ The Guardian

'Sprawling, sometimes goofy, always seditious novel of modern life in the remotest corner of China . . . Set Rabelais down in the mountains of, say, Xinjiang, mix in some Günter Grass, Thomas Pynchon and Gabriel García Márquez, and you’re in the approximate territory of Lianke’s latest exercise in épatering the powers that be . . . A satirical masterpiece.' Kirkus Reviews

'Lenin's Kisses mocks the way capitalist practices interweave with Communist ideology in China… Mr. Yan steers clear of depicting the world in simple good-evil dichotomies… "Lenin's Kisses" wickedly satirizes a sycophantic society where money and power are indiscriminately worshiped.'Wall Street Journal

‘It is a funny yet dark satirical novel…  I found "Lenin's Kisses" hard to put down when I read the English version again. I found myself giggling on a recent 'El' ride, confounding fellow passengers.  Yan has been called "the master of the School of Absurdities in Chinese literature" by his peers in China. "No matter what novels you write," said Yan during a recent interview with the Chinese media, "no fictional stories can match the complexities, richness and absurdities in real life.’ Chicago Tribune

'Mind-blowing story' Counterpunch

'Yan at the peak of his absurdist powers. He writes in the spirit of the dissident writer Vladimir Voinovich, who observed that “reality and satire are the same.' Evan Osnos, in The New Yorker, best books of 2012

'Yan Lianke weaves a passionate satire of today's China, a marvelous circus where the one eyed-man is king... Brutal. And wickedly funny.' L'Express

‘Both a blistering satire and a bruising saga, this epic novel examines the grinding forces of communism and capitalism, and the volatile zones where the two intersect… a heartbreaking story of greed, corruption, and the dangers of utopia.’ Publishers Weekly

Lenin's Kisses is a grand comic novel, wild in spirit and inventive in technique. It's a rhapsody that blends the imaginary with the real, raves about the absurd and the truthful, inspires both laughter and tears.’ Ha Jin

‘Brutal. And wickedly funny.’ L'Expres; ‘A satirical masterpiece.’ Kirkus Reviews

Yan Lianke is one ofChina's most interesting writers and a master of imaginative satire.’ The Guardian 


'A beguiling storyteller.' Sunday Age, Australia

'Yan Lianke maintains an utterly uncompromising stance... the unflinching eye that nevertheless leaves you blinking with the whirling absurdities of the human condition.' Independent

'Lianke’s lyrical prose... summons rare wonder: he manages to create a wretched, absurd and beautiful universe both brand-new and newly eternal.' MacLean’s Canada, best books of 2012

'In his angry 2012 article, Yan wrote that “People live like dogs in this society. I dream of being able to bark out loud in my books, and of turning my barking into exquisite music.” This compelling, deeply felt novel might have achieved that unsettling aim.' New Humanist

'... his account of the final maltreatment of the villagers — at the glorious opening of Lenin’s new gold-and-marble mausoleum, after which the performers are robbed of the money they have earned, starved, beaten and raped — has a tragic power. InLenin’s Kisses,Yan Lianke movingly chronicles the price that Communist China’s rush to get rich has exacted from its vulnerable rural majority.' The Spectator


Editions Philippe Picquier France


Chunfeng Art & Literature Press China


Font Forlag Norway


Text Australia


Grove Atlantic USA


Brilliance Audio North America


Chatto & Windus UK


Tiderne Skifter Denmark


Editura Allfa Romania


Eichborn Germany


Final Turkey


Bokförlaget Atlantis Sweden


Automatica Editorial Spain & Latin America


Kawade Shobo



Record Brazil


Woongjin ThinkBig Korea


Rye Field Taiwan


Mery Ratio Hungary


Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy Poland


Material: Chinese, French and English editions (500pp).

Dream of Ding Village USA Cover






Banned in China.


'This was a novel that gained warm and vigorous support throughout the judging process. It tells a dramatic, lyrical, courageous and in the end heart-breaking story of modern China and the people who have to cope with its bewildering transformations. So we wished to give a special commendation to Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke, translated by Cindy Carter. We recommend it fervently.' Boyd Tonkin, Head of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Jury


'The defining work of his career; not just an elegantly crafted piece of literature but a devastating critique of China’s runaway development.' Jonathan Watts, Guardian


Officially censored upon its original Chinese publication, 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 scandal in contemporary China.


As the book opens, Ding Village’s town directors, looking for a way to lift their village from poverty, decide to open a dozen blood-plasma collection stations. The directors hope to drain the townspeople of their blood and sell it to the villages near and far. Although the citizens prosper in the short run, the rampant blood selling leads to an outbreak of AIDS and a huge loss of life. 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 was an assistant to a well-known Beijing anthropologist studying a small village decimated by HIV/AIDS as a result of unregulated blood selling.


Dream of Ding Village focuses on one village, and the story of one family, destroyed when one son rises to the top of the Party pile as he exploits the situation, while another 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.


'A brave, dark and poetic account of modern Chinese malaise... Yan Lianke proves himself not only as a writer of political vision, but also one with a unique narrative voice... Yan Lianke's true story based prose combines an oral storytelling tradition with daring experiment - something rare in contemporary Chinese literature. I urge anyone interested in modern China to read this book.' Xiaolu Guo, author of A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers


'Lianke's brazen, unflinching portrayal of a community in the throes of collapse makes for a brilliant and harrowing novel.' Publisher's Weekly


‘His lyricism of despair, full of frenzied life, even when there is foam on lips, gives this novel of Yan Lianke it’s atrocious grace.’ Le Monde


‘Yan Lianke denounces an alarming situation… his novel is a true revelation.’ Rolling Stone


‘A sorrowful but captivating novel about the price of progress in modern China. The book, which was censored in that country, builds to an act of violence that resonates with the impact of Greek tragedy or Shakespearean drama.’ Kirkus Reviews


‘a revealing mirror of Chinese society... A tender story that cuts to the bone.' Transfuge


'Appearing in English at last, the banned Chinese novel Dream of Ding Village, by Yan Lianke is a furious satire of capitalism and corruption' Guardian


‘The novel is gripping, swift, heartfelt, occasionally exhilarating and often surprising, due in large part to the book's two big aces: the charming, naïve narrative voice of the dead boy and the dynamic, larger-than-life figure of grandpa, the central character and the only morally grounded citizen of Ding Village.’ Shelf Awareness


'Yan is clearly making a statement about the personal and spiritual prices paid for China's runaway development.' Lionel Shriver


'It reads like a fable, unmoored from time… Yan’s prose amply captures his outrage. Above all, it offers a window into a world American readers rarely see — in which, for example, AIDS sufferers defy death by boasting of how many steamed buns they can eat. In the end Dream of Ding Village works both as a horrifying social critique and, strange to say, as a perversely gripping Gothic tale. This novel delivers not only a front-lines message from Henan Province but also news of Yan Lianke’s skill as a messenger.' Boston Globe


'Dream of Ding Village paints a riveting and disturbing portrait of village life in the grip of epidemic... Dream of Ding Village is powerful and peerless.' Sydney Morning Herald


'A powerful look at the AIDS scandal in Henan Province during the 1990s... Communist ideals battle against capitalistic impulses and human nature in this grand, layered novel, a must-read for anyone interested in present-day China.' Booklist Online


'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... 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... 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.' Goodreads.com


'What a dilemma Yan Lianke must pose to his government. He's one of China's most celebrated writers, and among its most censored... Lianke, a native of Henan Province, plays with farce and satire and allegory as he spins his dark tale. His description of what has been lost is as mesmerizing as his critique of those to blame is merciless.' Barnes & Noble


'A powerful and shocking piece of work' The Big Issue


'One of the most prolific and bravest authors to come from China, brings us a disturbing chronicle of one village’s deterioration caused by ‘the spreading fever’' Guardian


Constable UK


Editions Philippe Picquier France


Text Australia & New Zealand


Editora Record Brazil


Ullstein Germany


Font Forlag Norway


Grove Atlantic USA


Nottetempo Italy


Tiderne Skifter Denmark


Automatica Editorial Spain & Latin America


Bokförlaget Atlantis Sweden


Editura Allfa Romania


Kawade Shobo Japan


Editorial Males Herbes Spain (Catalan)


Rye Field Taiwan


ASIA Publishers Korea


Taodanbooks Vietnam


Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy Poland


Material: many editions including Chinese, French and English editions (341pp).

serve the people! (WEI RENMIN FUWU)
Serve The People

Banned in China.


Serve the People! is the sexy, satirical sensation chronicling a love affair between the wife of a powerful Communist army commander and her household’s servant – a remarkable, profound and deliciously comic satire on Mao’s famous slogan and the political and sexual taboos of his regime, by one of the most important authors writing from inside China today.


Liu Lian, the young, pretty wife of a powerful Red Army Division Commander is left to idle at home while her husband furthers the revolution. In her boredom she begins to toy with the household servant – Wu Dawang, a conscientious and exemplary soldier – and decides to set a new rule. Whenever the household’s SERVE THE PEOPLE! sign is removed from it’s normal place on the dinner table and placed elsewhere, Wu Dawang is to stop what he is doing and attend to her needs upstairs. He dutifully vows to obey her instruction.


As life is breathed into the illicit sexual affair, Yan Lianke brilliantly captures how the model soldier becomes an eager collaborator with the restless and demanding Liu Lian, their actions inspired by primitive passions that they are only just discovering. The short affair culminates in three days of ravenous lovemaking, the peak of which is an evening in which the lovers compete to see who can prove themselves the most counterrevolutionary by destroying the compound’s most sacred Communist icons.


This fetishistic love story and insolent variation on the official History may have been banned in China but managed to find a huge audience on the internet, and gained praise as a subversive critique of official corruption, leadership hypocrisy and the insanity of the Cultural Revolution.


‘Drips with the kind of satire that can only come from deep within the machinery of Chinese communism. Eschewing broad comedy, Yan barbs the text with enough social criticism to receive a priceless blurb from the Central Propaganda Bureau.’ Financial Times


'Crackles with sexual tension as Yan Lianke peels back Mao’s revolution to reveal the broad vein of humanism that overcame the revolution.’ Patrick Tyler, former Beijing bureau chief, New York Times


‘A savagely funny satire of revolutionary politics and corruption, written in prose as crisp and lovely as its barbs are sharp. A red hot love story that also offers real insight into the Chinese language and imagination, Yan’s new book is a festive banquet of old-school sloganeering and modern temptation.’ Rachel Dewoskin, author of Foreign Babes in Beijing


'Lianke spares no one . . . 'Serve the People!' is a wonderfully biting satire, brimming with absurdity, humor and wit . . .the novel is exuberantly drawn in several shades of revolutionary red.' LA Times


'This passionate satire of clandestine, intimate privilege in an ostensibly classless, egalitarian society is exceedingly carefully written, so that it is at once funny, sad, and bitterly ironic on nearly every page. Oh, and sensual, too.' Ray Olson, Booklist STARRED REVIEW


‘A very funny, and sexy, satire’ Independent on Sunday


Ullstein Germany


Einaudi Italy


Editions Philippe Picquier France


Podium NL


Constable UK


Text Australia & New Zealand


Grove Atlantic USA


Record Brazil


Riva Bulgaria


Kinneret Israel


BB Art Czech Republic


Polirom Romania


Maeva Ediciones Spain


Teorema Portugal


Font Forlag Norway


Aschehoug Forlag Denmark


Bungei Shunjyu Japan


Woongjin ThinkBig Korea


Rye Field Taiwan


Material: English, French editions and many more (228pp).




In DISCOVERING THE NOVEL Yan Lianke goes back in time, summoning the great voices of realism, from Stendhal and Kafka to Joyce and Marquez, to trace the evolution of fiction in its power to account for reality. He leads us to what he calls "mythorealism", the only literary form he feels that allows us to explore the countercurrents and dark whirlpools under the clear river of the rational. A literary manifesto that is also an act of faith in humanity's ability to survive the madness of the world. "Anger and passion are the soul of my work. "

in SOUND AND SILENCE Yan Lianke looks at hard and soft censorship and how censorship can become internalised.


Nankai University Press China

INK Taiwan

Editions Philippe Picquier (A LA DECOUVERTE DU ROMAN)

Bokforlaget Wanzhi Sweden

Duke University Press (World English) (Both collections)