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Jia Pingwa's Happy Dreams is a powerful depiction of life in industrializing contemporary China, seen through the eyes of Happy Liu, a charming and clever rural labourer who leaves his home for the harsh streets of Xi'an in search of better life.

Hawa "Happy" Liu donated one of his kidneys to be able to pay for his marriage, but when his bride left him only to marry another guy, he travels from his rural home in Shaanxi together with his devoted friend Wufu to find the recipient of his donated kidney in the provincial capital Xi'an.

In Xi'an, Happy and his buddy Wufu find jobs as trash pickers sorting through the city's filth, but Happy refuses to be deterred by inauspicious beginnings. When he meets the beautiful Yichun, he imagines she is the one. But when the harsh city conditions and the crush of societal inequalities take the life of his friend and shake Happy to his soul, he'll need more than just his unrelenting optimism to hold on to the belief that something better is possible.

Jia Pingwa, born 1952 into a farming family in Dancing County, Shaanxi, is a celebrated writer and essayist. He first achieved fame in the 1970s and 1980s with his award-winning short stories and novellas, the majority of which are set in Jia's rural home in Shangzhou Prefecture. After graduation from Xi`an Xibei Daxue in 1976, he worked as an editor at the Shaanxi People's Publishing House. Jia is known for his realistic depiction of the culture and peasant life of Shaanxi Province.

Jia is the author of many novels and short stories, his story "Full Moon" won the National Short Story Award, the Prix Femina Prize went to Abandoned Capital. Turbulence won the Pegasus Prize for Literature as well as the French Arts and Literature Prize. In November 2008, Jia won the prestigious Mao Dun Literary Prize for his twelfth novel, Shaanxi Opera.

Please note: this is a book discussion – the author will not be present.


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