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许三观卖血记 [PDF / EPUB] 许三观卖血记 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 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 MaoA cart pusher in a silk mill Xu Sanguan augments his meager salary with regular visits to the local blood chief His visits become lethally freuent 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.

  • Paperback
  • 263 pages
  • 许三观卖血记
  • Yu Hua
  • English
  • 24 April 2016
  • 9781400031856

About the Author: Yu Hua

余华; traditional Chinese.



10 thoughts on “许三观卖血记

  1. says:

    I have anemia and irrespective of what comprises my daily diet or the amount I consume, my body's ability to manufacture blood and hemoglobin remains permanently stunted. Which is why I have no choice but to take iron supplements regularly and without fail. Once I suspend this routine for a few days, the dizziness, the lack of vigour returns to haunt me with a vengeance. So perhaps, it is a travesty of the highest order that I will now proceed to empathize with the protagonist's compulsion of selling his own blood away like a commodity to procure a few Yuan for his family's well being. I am supposed to wax eloquent about how moving an account this is of the mishaps that befall a family, mainly due to the policies implemented by a cruel, unfeeling administration divorced from the needs of the common man.I do know a thing or two about being bloodless but then I have no first hand knowledge of suburban and rural poverty in China preceding and succeeding the years of the Cultural Revolution. Hence, I don't deserve to frame a few pompous sounding sentences in a review depicting the hardships of Xu Sanguan and his family and express commiseration. Because come what may, I'll never be able to experience what it feels like to be in his shoes. Even if my family falls on hard times, I'll promptly be shooed away from hospitals or laughed at if I ever did try and sell/donate my blood.How can I understand destitution, sitting here inside an air conditioned room typing away patronizingly at a desktop after having read a book on my kindle? I don't know the first thing about working on an empty stomach in a silk factory. Or being forced to savour a bowl of thin corn flour gruel laced with sugar like the finest gourmet dish in existence during a terrible famine. Or having to sell blood and, in turn, risk selling my life away in order for my family to get over a crisis. Or having my life's basic structure re modelled according to the whims of a delusional autocrat.But what I do perceive with shocking certainty is the giant, looming shadow of Chairman Mao's legacy of despotism and how deeply it affects the work of writers from this fascinating country. It is becoming increasingly hard to imagine coming across literature from and about China devoid of any mention of the Communist Party's history of corruption and the blunt indifference with which they stripped away a generation of people of their dignity as human beings, treating them almost like laboratory mice.Xu Sanguan goes through life, fights his daily battles with various adversities without knowing the first thing about Communism, Socialism or Capitalism. He only wishes to provide for his family and survive, remaining largely clueless about the political upheavals in his own country or their significance in the greater scheme of things. Forget politics, he only identifies with the English letter 'O' as a circle which denotes his blood group. Such is the extent of his guileless ignorance.He can only know what being in the throes of starvation feels like and what it is like to be in perpetual need of one thing or another. Concepts like subversion, revolution, agitation or questioning the legitimacy of a regime or higher authority are alien to him.And yet innocuous as his existence is, ripples of political disturbances outside the realm of his comprehension bring turbulence into his own minuscule sphere of existence. He suffers and we suffer along with him. Chronicle of a Blood Merchant showcases no instances of ostentatious wordsmithy or lucid erudition. Instead, Yu Hua often resorts to crude metaphors to bring to life the rustic simplicity of the backdrop against which the story unfolds. But what catapults this into the league of great literature is its endearing honesty and its attempt at remaining true to the spirit of an age and a nation caught in a painful phase of transformation. Sanguan's bloodlessness is rife with underlying implications. It is his steady depletion of vitality which symbolizes the silent misery of a generation.And yet, this book stresses not so much on an anti communist rhetoric as much as it directs its energies at narrating a tale of blood ties and a family's quest for survival in the face of all imaginable trials and tribulations. A family which couldn't care less about Mao remaining in power or Mao being deposed. Because to the Xu Sanguans of China, all meaning in life lies embedded in a crock full of bug free rice and a few Yuan which can buy them the luxury of gorging on fried pork livers and gulping down a few shots of cheap yellow wine.

  2. says:

    Twelve times, a hope,Twelve times, a plea,Twelve times, the letter ‘O’, Thirty five yuan, a stack,Twelve times, it flowed,The blood of a patriarch.What would you do if money ran through your veins? The resource of currency was within you and as you breathe the stench of poverty, the crimson wealth mocked your deplorable life. What if the final hope of a venerable survival sailed in the profound metallic waves of warm blood? Would you, like Xu Sanguan let the crimson money flow into the cold exteriors of a beaker or let it darken within the emaciated carcass of life? “Is it true that people who sell their blood are really healthy?” The white puffy cocoons are meticulously sorted out with nimble fingers and then the high quality ones are boiled in water for several minutes examining their subtle watery swirls. After the cocoons have been taken out of the water, a shiny dissecting needle is tenderly pierced picking up the silken strands as it is uniformly reeled around a pencil or related object. The reeled silk is then packed into small bundles and shipped to numerous silk factories. Blood was Sanguan’s silk. The robust needle released the dainty silken threads from Sanguan’s veins, as the splendour of life reeled into the comatose bottles. The crimson silk was pulled out from the socio political cocoon of adversity. Blood was Sanguan’s sole wealth, his solitary path to becoming an honourable man.Medically, blood is termed to be a fluid that transports oxygen and nutrients to the cells and removes waste matter from the same cells. Humanly, Sanguan’s blood stayed true to its responsibility too. It imparted oxygen to the collapsing lives around him and eradicated the squalor of destitution. Although, blood selling is conventionally illegal in China, yet for decades the country has witnessed the proliferation of blood selling black markets mushrooming in every corner of the country, especially its countryside, thus compensating excess currency for blood. China considers blood selling as a societal failure. There have been genuine cases till date that expose the underbelly of blood marketing and the despondency of poverty ridden families. A societal failure, is that the ultimate inference? What sort of circumstances led to this bloody chaos? Did the government even bother to investigate the root cause of this blood selling commotion? Or then as always turned a blind eye to the festering poverty? An impoverished life that has been robbed till the last crumb of sustainable resources, yet advised to be resilient, how will it feed the hungry stomach? When the political elites indulge in pompous propaganda about their country attaining the top rung of the socio economic ladder, do the government even bother to glance at those who still dwell in the squalor of the lowest rung? For a humble, simple cart pusher at a silk factory who slowly disintegrated encumbering in the infinite shadows of poverty, blood was the ever growing “money tree”. The energy that came from blood was valuable than the one which came from the muscle. The “sweat money” that arrived from toiling the fields was able to merely diminish the pangs of starvation. On the other hand, the “blood money” bestowed the luxury of affording a wife and buying a house. Blood had become precious than a bumper crop in the impecunious existence of the rural areas.When poverty spews venom into the land, annihilating the crops and dependent lives, the human body is the solitary hope for a dignified survival. Villages ravaged by extreme poverty, lands being snatched by existing hypocritical governmental policies and the ironical fate of human dignity muddled amid socio political pandemonium; poverty had even passed through the corridors of the city. For Xu Sanguan and the numerous rural folks, blood became their lone possession, something that they essentially owned and would not be snatched or demolished by their country elites. Blood was like that “water well” which never ran dry and could always quench the thirst of the needy. Readers of this book, may not agree to the ways of Xu Sanguan, but in a land where one witnesses his children howl with hunger, the bones of his loved ones protruding from their shriveled skin, the very symbol of a robust patriarch fading helplessly in an impecunious abyss and when life around you crumbles into the circling sphere of despair, one is compelled with desperation to look for indescribable resolutions. Only when one reaches to the edge of desolation, one tries to find a way back to safety. Blood safeguarded Xu Sanguan and his family and thus he was not ashamed of its usage. Blood restored reverence and dignity in Sanguan’s life and where money failed, it was those several bowls of blood that remunerated dignity binding the fragments of a collapsing life simultaneously. “My dad used to tell me when I was little that your blood is passed down from your ancestors. You can sell fried dough, sell a house, sell off your land, but can never sell your bloodSelling your blood is like selling your ancestors” Were Xu Yulan’s accusations of Sanguan selling his ancestors accurate? Was the act of selling blood insulting to one’s ancestors? In what way did Sanguan become a criminal, when his blood saved the cherished lives of his descendants? Did Sanguan commit a sin, when he sold his blood, so that his children could for once take pleasure in slurping hot noodles, rather than starving themselves on watery corn flour gruel? Was Sanguan immoral when his ‘ blood money’ bought rice and meat to his hapless wife as she stood in the blazing sun, malnourished and crouched under the heaviness of being publicly labelled as a prostitute? Did Sanguan really offend his ancestors when he became a symbol of a sincere patriarch by taking care and saving his family from the most adverse circumstances?Yu Hua’s dark humour The Chronicle of Blood Merchant primarily revolves around the trials and tribulations of Xu Sanguan, his wife Xu Yulan and three sons (Yile, Erle and Sanle), as the family endures a changing Chinese Society through the political storms of The Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution; where blood was made as watery as the corn flour gruel to nourish a famished existence and maturity was not gained through the growth of life but by the loss of it.The ostentatious big character posters that were plastered on every street corner during the Mao dominant Cultural Revolution era fascinated Yu Hua and were the source of his literary aspirations. Yu Hua once said: “This is the earliest genuine literature I read. On the street, in front of big character posters, I began to like literature.” Resembling an artistic satirical poster, Yu Hua’s novel stays faithful to its titular plot. In the course of Sanguan’s resilient journey, Yu Hua articulates the element of critical realism through literary depictions of social changes, highlighting diverse themes of family, acceptance, resilience, sacrifice and impoverished survival. Xu Sanguan’s affectionate acceptance of Yile during the tussle stuck between nature and nurture; Xu Yulan’s makeover from the exquisite “Fried Dough Queen” to an industrious wife who vigilantly calculated every ‘fen’ that entered her home; Sanguan’s sons who faced their own internal conflicts while surviving in external adversities and Sanguan’s vital sacrifice of his own blood for the well being of his family. The hospital plays a crucial role in the deciding factor of the novel as it becomes a sort of a heavenly sanctuary for Xu Sanguan where he finds a breathing space from every merciless and sadistic calamity. Yu Hua’s characters explode bursting through the printed words, becoming animated through their sorrows and epigrammatic happiness binding all individualistic characters into a family as a sturdy principal unit. One can hear the poignant song of Sanguan’s blood as it trickles into the highly hung bottle; the fragrance of juicy braised pork that Sanguan’s cooks through his mouth, painfully stings the heart; Yile’s copious tears that fly through the streets, Xu Yulan’s public and personal defamation and the whimpers of impoverished populace pleading the Blood Chief Li to help them make money; generate a few heart wrenching moments. Through the web of wispy threads reeled out from the cottony gloves, the echo of melancholic survival bathed in red gold. “All I want is fried pork livers and yellow rice wine” The gains of nationalistic fervor, the vivid socialist dreams, the communist farce of equality; all these agendas are non existent in an ordinary life. A common man who toils from daybreak to sunset does not care about the bickering of politics; all he cares is about bringing ample food to the table and see his children grow in a liberated world of contentment. He wants his country to flourish but fears the persecution of his family’s well being. All Xu Sanguan desired was to breathe a blissful life with Xu Yulan and his three sons. All Genlong wanted was to marry his beloved woman and the rural folk in China yearned to provide a healthier life for their kin. For men, whose foreign language skills were restricted to couple alphabets relating to varied blood groups (A, AB, O, B), the felonies of their administration flowed through the streams of their blood. The aroma of fried pork livers and the tingle of warm rice wine blended in the corroded smell of the blood; the pious meal that too came for the price of blood. The modest meal of pork livers and wine had been embedded deep into Sanguan’s blood cells and in the end its cravings haunted Sanguan, decades later in a much freer Chinese society, for the reason that selling blood had become Sanguan’s weapon in the war of poverty and humiliation and the subsequent meaty feast, a reward for winning the war.I’m privileged for not having to experience the malice of poverty. I’m fortunate enough to have only seen my blood flow in mere couple drops and not like an angry river. Sadly, I truthfully know that there are several Sanguans, Ah Fengs and Genlongs with bursting bladders queuing in the sinister shadows of a medical clinic, wondering if their blood will fetch them a serving of fried pork liver and warm rice wine and maybe the child’s school fees. I can hear a steady affirmation from Xu Sanguan, after all we do share the same letter ‘O’.

  3. says:

    Chronicle of a Blood Merchant Translator's Afterword

  4. says:

    The title promises a grand epic, but the novel turns out to be the simple tale of a silk factory worker, Sanguan, his wife, the Dough Queen and his three sons , one of whom, Yile, turns out not to be his son at all.There is an appealing naievity about the characters. The three friends who, before they sell blood, drink ten bowls of water to make the blood go further. The subsequent meal where a hearty thump on the table and a roared order of fried pig's liver with two glasses of yellow rice wine are a signal to the waiter that these are people used to eating in a restaurant. The wife who publicly and noisily berates her husband for his human failings. The neighbours who flock to listen to, and add commentaries to street arguments by the Dough Queen and her son's father and his wife.Yet the sweet simplicity of the characters hides some dark undercurrents. The torment of the little boy, Yile, searching for paternal acknowledgment. Yile's distress at being excluded when the rest of the family are treated by Sanguan to a meal of hot noodles, and the Dough Queen's daily disgrace when she is paraded for public vilification by the proponents of the cultural revolution who needed the negative example of a prostitute. In the end, though, the book sends a message of redemption as Sanguan risks his health selling blood to get medical treatment for the "son" he once refused to buy noodles for. The wife who continually bemoaned her marital lot develops a genuine love for her husband and, when his blood is turned down by the local hospital and he responds by weeping in despair, leads him gently by the arm to the local restaurant and orders pigs liver for him. The three boys grow up, get married, get jobs and turn out well despite their parents.Really well written, and, despite its simplicity, it packs a powerful punch. For days after reading it, I walked down our tree lined street in Shanghai examining the elderly people lounging round street tables, and wondered how they fared in the cultural revolution. Not a topic one broaches here though, so I'll never know.

  5. says:

    Chronicle of a Blood Merchant Frankly I like the Danish translated title better: "The tale of Xu Sanguan who once sold his blood"Xu Sanguan is not a travelling salesman specializing in blood, though blood in this context is treated as a mere commodity. Blood has so many meanings besides being an essential part the organism.We touch upon blood relatives and those who are not, we feel the heated blood of violent temper and erotic excitement and we meet blood brothers.And, we are presented to a system which literally will suck out the blood of the less lucky.When all you have to rely on is thinning your own blood with water to survive, you may ask yourself if that was a Big Leap Forward after all.

  6. says:

    This was awful. Ugh. I stopped reading the moment when a man said to his sons they had to rape other man's daughters to avenge their mother. The story already had some things I didn't like AT ALL but this was so awful 🙁. I'm done with the book and with the author 🙁.

  7. says:

    "She's like a broken pot that's not afraid of shattering, and I'm a dead pig who no longer minds that the water's coming to a boil."I read Yu's "To Live" a while back and loved it, and am finally getting read to digging into his other works. This is another fantastic, moving, disturbing, and hilarious novel about the hapless Xu Sanguan, the "blood merchant" of the title. Without giving anything away (because you're a fool if you don't read it and you know that I will paste big character posters about you all over the neighborhood if you don't), I can describe this as a story about Sanguan, a well meaning dude, his dough making wife, Yulan, who slept with another dude just before they got married, and their kids. Don't get all excited by those stupid, obligatory cover blurbs that must accompany every translation of every Chinese novel, describing them as sweeping, historical narratives with thinly veiled and critical symbolism. Yeah, the Xus live through some shit that happened in China over the last 50 years, but its mere backdrop. This is just the story of a broken, tormented family, their recurring woes, and the downright humanism with which they approach each other.I was surprised to read that Yu got a lot of shit from "critics" for abandoning his avant garde style of his early years and moving towards what I would call "naturalist" Zola type novels. Good for him!

  8. says:

    I saw this bought at Book Sale and bought it because it has a nice cover. I didn't realise what I had was a treasure a very unique story, memorable characters, witty dialogues and a culture that is peculiarly funny. Truly a gem!

  9. says:

    From my own world, to another completely different world; thanks to Hua.

  10. says:

    This was actually a very heartwarming story of a family living during the height of cultural revolution and the hardship of having everything in scarce, raising three boys and facing society conflicts, accusation and indignity. Xu Sanguan was a great man although I was a bit irritated about the way he teaches the kids sometimes, but as the plot developed his character flourished throughout the narratives as well as giving much colors and perspectives making it entertaining and awe inspiring I can see how Xu Sanguan growing up from a boy to an adult, dealing with life and learning his mistakes. I love the plot time frame that been narrated and structured well, it shows every phase vividly and depicted the realistic portrait of historical and cultural life from mainland China. Quite simple, also witty and suspense and above all it focused on the love/care, responsibilities and bonds of family and human being. A gripping tale, giving this a 3.8 stars.

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