Chronicle of a Blood Merchant

Yu Hua, Andrew Jones

fiction historical
emotional reflective sad medium-paced

263 pages | first published 1995

One of the last decade's ten most influential books in China, this internationally acclaimed novel by one of the mainland's most important contemporary writers provides an unflinching portrait of life under Chairman Mao.

A cart-pusher in a silk mill, Xu Sanguan augments his meager salary with regular visits to the local blood chief. His visits become lethally frequent as he struggles to provide for his wife and three sons at the height of the Cultural Revolution. Shattered to discover that his favorite son was actually born of a liaison between his wife and a neighbor, he suffers his greatest indignity, while his wife is publicly scorned as a prostitute. Although the poverty and betrayals of Mao's regime have drained him, Xu Sanguan ultimately finds strength in the blood ties of his family. With rare emotional intensity, grippingly raw descriptions of place and time, and clear-eyed compassion, Yu Hua gives us a stunning tapestry of human life in the grave particulars of one man's days.

What the community thinks

summary of 30 ratings (see reviews)

Average rating

3.9