A finalist for the Man Booker International prize.
Deep within the Balou mountains lies a small rural town populated by disabled people. Blind, deaf and disfigured, the 197 citizens of the village of Liven have until now enjoyed a peaceful, mutually supportive life out of sight and mind of the government. But when an unseasonal snowstorm wipes out that year’s crops, a county official dreams up a scheme that will raise money for the district and boost his career.
He convinces the villagers to set up a travelling freak show, to include Blind Tonghua’s Acute Listening Act and Deafman Ma’s Firecrackers-on-the-Ear. With the money, he intends to buy Lenin’s embalmed corpse from an ailing Russia and install it in a splendid mausoleum in the mountains to attract tourism to this sleepy district. However, as we all know, even the best intentions can go awry.