A soaring literary achievement from internationally acclaimed writer Yu Hua, whose novels are now appearing in English for the first time, Chronicle of a Blood Merchant provides an unflinching portrait of China under Chairman Mao, as a factory worker must sell his blood to overcome every crisis. Xu Sanguan is a Chinese everyman-a cart-pusher in a silk mill struggling under the cruelty and hardships of Mao's leadership. His meager salary is not enough to sustain his family, so he pays regular visits to the local blood chief, followed by stops at the Victory Restaurant, where he pounds on the table and demands his ritual meal: "A plate of fried pork livers and two shots of yellow rice wine. And warm the wine up for me." But fried pork livers and yellow rice wine are not enough to restore Xu Sanguan. With the country in the throes of the Cultural Revolution, his visits to the blood chief become lethally frequent and his obligations to his family press against him mercilessly. At the height of famine, the Xu family lies motionless in bed, rising twice a day to consume increasingly watery rations of corn gruel. Xu Sanguan's wife is forced to stand on a stool in the center of town wearing a sandwich board that reads "prostitute". Yile, his wife's bastard son, forever haunts Xu Sanguan's sense of honor. And when Xu Sanguan sells his blood so he can take his family out to a proper meal, he does not invite Yile, who paces the town, famished and in tears, offering himself as a son to any man who will buy him a bowl of noodles. In a series of heartbreaking reversals, Xu Sanguan decides to risk his own life to save Yile and comes to understand that in a society ravaged by suspicion, hostility, and poverty, blood money not only pays debts, but forgives them as well. 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.