“The writing, in Harman’s translation, is a delight—rich and lively.” —New York Times Book Review
“Interwoven with references to China’s tumultuous political history and rich artistic tradition, Pingwa’s novel captures a nation undergoing change and brutally illustrates what that change might actually cost…[An] optimistic yet heartbreaking tale of the life of Hawa ‘Happy’ Liu.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Although the characters suffer the socioeconomic upheavals of contemporary China, they accept their plights and muddle through…” —Kirkus Reviews
“Easy read…Enjoyable.” —Library Journal
“Nicky Harman’s free-flowing translation of Jia’s prose swiftly ferries the reader through the four hundred and fifty-page novel, capturing its Rabelaisian-like humor and colorful tableaus of migrant workers with their diverse personalities, aspirations, and shortcomings.” —Asian Review of Books
“This is an incredibly beautiful book, a story of the triumph of the human spirit which transcends time and space…Translating is always a tricky task, with the non-native reader often missing out on the finer nuances of wordplay and language-specific puns, but Nicky Harman manages to preserve Pingwa’s natural style and frequent mixing of the rustic idiom, by juxtaposing American slang with formalized British English. It is a technique that may have jarred in other hands, but Harman pulls it off with the practiced ease of the experienced translator. The result is as close as the English reader can get to the author’s original presentation and intent.” —The Indian Express
“Sometimes a good book highlights our similarities, sometimes our differences. Sometimes it stays inside its borders, sometimes it strays across. The rare book manages all of the above, and sometimes deceptively so…Enter Pingwa’s Happy Dreams…It was too good for me, did its job too well, for which Harman also certainly enjoys a heaping helping of praise.” —Words Without Borders
“Happy Dreams…is Happy Liu’s story. It is also the story of modern China, where the flow of labor from rural to urban areas has continued unabated for decades and is arguably the largest such migration in history. The China depicted in Happy Dreams is not one that will be familiar to Western tourists who are typically shielded from the country’s underside. Xi’an is known for its terra-cotta warriors, after all, not for the small army of men and women who scavenge trash from every corner of the city. Those with more than a superficial knowledge of the country, however, will recognize the novel’s brutal honesty.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“Hawa ‘Happy’ Liu is an endlessly optimistic man on a mission. He wants to find the recipient of the kidney he donated. Set in contemporary China, Happy Dreams is a charming story about the power of positivity.” —HelloGiggles
“Happy Dreams explores the lives of the people we don’t always see. Through Happy’s eyes, Jia Pingwa shows us the hope living, literally, amongst the garbage of a city, and how treacherous urban life can be for those unsure how to navigate it.”—Angela Amman
“The minutiae of life in a city of China as a trash picker. Interesting small adventures in this story. The topic of friendship with its ups and downs is one I enjoyed from this story.” —vvb32 Reads
About the Author
Born in 1952 in Dihua Village, Danfeng County, Shaanxi Province, Jia Pingwa went on to graduate from Northwestern University’s Chinese department in 1975. He is deputy chair of the China Writers’ Association Presidium and chair of Writers’ Association Shaanxi branch. Among his best-known works are the novels Shaanxi Opera (QinQiang), Ruined City, Turbulence, Old Kiln Village, The Lantern Bearer, Master of Songs, The Pole Flower, White Nights, Earth Gate, Gao Lao Village, and In Memory of Wolves. He is also the author of several short story collections and novellas.
Passionate about spreading Chinese literature to English readers, Nicky Harman has translated the works of many renowned Chinese authors into English. They include Anni Baobei’s The Road of Others, Chan Koon-Chung’s The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver, Chen Xiwo’s Book of Sins, Han Dong’s A Phone Call from Dalian: Collected Poems, Jia Pingwa’s Happy Dreams, Dorothy Tse’s Snow and Shadow, Xinran’s Letter from an Unknown Chinese Mother, Xu Xiaobin’s Crystal Wedding, Xu Zhiyuan’s Paper Tiger, and Yan Ge’s The Chili Bean Paste Clan.
Harman has won several awards, including the Mao Tai Cup People’s Literature Chinese-English translation prize 2015 and the 2013 China International Translation Contest, Chinese-to-English section. When not translating, she promotes contemporary Chinese fiction to the general English-language reader through literary events, blogs, talks, a short story project on Paper-Republic.org, and with the Writing Chinese project 2014–2016 at Leeds University. She also mentors new translators, teaches summer schools, and judges translation competitions. Harman resides in the United Kingdom and tweets as the China Fiction Bookclub @cfbcuk.