Written in the aftermath of the Tiananmen massacre, The Noodle Maker is a virtuoso piece of 'red humour' - a darkly funny novel about the absurdities and cruelties of life in modern China. Every week, a writer of political propaganda and a professional blood-donor meet for dinner. They make unlikely friends, the one tortured by the desire for intellectual excellence, the other more concerned with the down-to-earth practicalities of life. Nevertheless, the writer enjoys the blood-donor's company, perhaps because, as the richer of the two, he provides the dinner. Over the course of one especially gastronomic and drunken evening, the writer moves from complaints about his latest commission - the composition of an epic account of a Communist hero - to recount the stories he would really like to write, had he the freedom. A young man buys an old kiln from an art school and opens a private crematorium, delighting in his ability to harass the corpses of police officers and Party secretaries; an illegal migrant scrapes a living writing letters for the illiterate, but becomes so immersed in the lives of others that he loses a grip on his own; a heartbroken actress performs a public suicide.