China Dream Summary and Reviews

China Dream by Ma Jian (author), Flora Drew (translator) X
China Dream by Ma Jian (author), Flora Drew (translator)
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  • Published in USA  May 2019
    176 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

One of the year's most anticipated novels in translation, written by an acclaimed Chinese author whose entire body of work has been banned by his home country, and published in the thirtieth-anniversary year of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Ma Daode is feeling pleased with himself. He has just been appointed Director of the China Dream Bureau, tasked with overwriting people's private dreams with President Xi's great China Dream of national rejuvenation. He has an impressive office, three properties and a bevy of mistresses texting him night and day.

But just as Ma Daode is putting the finishing touches to his plan for a mass golden wedding anniversary celebration, things take an uneasy turn. Suddenly plagued by flashbacks of the Cultural Revolution, Ma Daode's nightmares from the past threaten to undo his dream of a glorious future.

In China Dream, Ma Jian takes the reader on a tragicomic ride through the horrors and absurdities of totalitarian power. His dystopian vision is set not in the future, but in China today. Written to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, China Dream is revealing of China's moral crises, and what happens to a nation blinded by materialism and governed by violence and lies. In a moment when the characterization of reality is vulnerable to the whims of power, it also poses wider questions that are blisteringly resonant about the way we perceive, understand, and manipulate our histories, as individuals and as a society.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Financial Times Best Book of the Year
A The Millions Most Anticipated Book of the Year

"A masterwork of political satire, meaningful without heavy-handedness." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"In his startling and irreverent parody, Ma finds compassion amid the sex and violence that shape a history of injustice and a nation's vulnerability." - Booklist (starred review)

"China Dream may be the purest distillation yet of Mr. Ma's talent for probing the country's darkest corners and exposing what he regards as the Communist Party's moral failings." - The New York Times

"Novelists like Ma Jian (especially his recent China Dream) are producing sly and savage works of international literature, exploring―and exploding―the implications of China's recent accelerated modernization program and its global economic ambitions under the leadership of Xi." - The Los Angeles Times

"Ma has a marksman's eye for the contradictions of his country and his generation, and the responsibilities and buried dreams they carry. His perceptiveness, combined with a genius for capturing people who come from all classes, occupations, backgrounds and beliefs; for identifying the fallibility, comedy and despair of living in absurd times, has allowed him to compassionately detail China's complex inner lives" - The Guardian (UK)

"Mr. Ma's critique of the totalitarian mindset recalls that of Soviet-era dissidents ... tragic and elegiac ... garnished with both horror and tenderness." - The Economist (UK)

"A short, highly satirical work no less excoriating than any of Ma's previous fiction, translated in a graphic, stylish manner by [Flora] Drew, [the author's wife and longtime translator]." - The Financial Times (UK)

"Wrenching ... makes President Xi's vision of national prosperity look like a recipe for insanity." - 1843 Magazine

"China Dream is a magnificent work in its unerring take on China, Ma Jian giving voice to the ghosts and memories of a silenced nation." - South China Morning Post Magazine

"A scathing satire of the absurd reality facing a silenced nation." - South China Morning Post

"A master of inimitable humour. Always hilarious, thought-provoking, and immensely moving." - Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans and Empress Dowager Cixi

The information about China Dream shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Ma Jian (author), Flora Drew (translator) Author Biography

Photo: Flora Drew

Ma Jian was born in Qingdao, China, in 1953. He worked as a watch-mender’s apprentice, a painter of propaganda boards, and a photojournalist. At the age of thirty, he left his job and traveled for three years across China. In 1987 he completed Stick Out Your Tongue, which prompted the Chinese government to ban his future work.

He left Beijing for Hong Kong in 1987 as a dissident, but he continued to travel to China, and he supported the pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square in 1989. After the handover of Hong Kong he moved to Germany and then London, where he now lives with his partner and translator, Flora Drew. He's free to travel to China, but his books are banned or censored, and he's forbidden from publishing or making public statements.

Note: In traditional ...

... Full Biography
Author Interview

Name Pronunciation
Ma Jian (author), Flora Drew (translator): mar GEE-arn

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