During the 2020-2021 Great World Texts in Wisconsin program, teachers and students throughout the state are reading and responding to Yan Lianke’s Dream of Ding Village.
Officially censored upon its Chinese publication, Dream of Ding Village is the prescient story of the public health crisis of the 1990s when rural villages selling their blood led to an AIDS outbreak. The novel is the result of three years of undercover work by writer Yan Lianke, 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.
Classrooms who participate in this program have the opportunity to ask themselves 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?