Dostoevsky and the Chickens

11th February 2014

Tune in to BBC Radio 3, next Saturday 15th Feb, at 21:30, to hear novelist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo’s radio drama, ‘Dostoevsky and the Chickens’, in which convicts read Dostoevsky and dream of life beyond the prison chicken plant.

Set on a purpose-built island in the Pacific Ocean in a vast poultry processing plant, staffed entirely by prisoners, a teenage couple, Zhuang and Niue, meet in secret and read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment together. Zhuang dreams about the possibility of bringing about a new social order, while Niue has quieter ambitions to become a mother and earn a living from her talent for singing.

When the Mainland is hit by a highly virulent strain of bird flu, suspicion falls on chicken meat from the island’s processing plant. The chicken factory island and its workers are put into enforced quarantine, surrounded by soldiers and left to their fate. But Zhuang is determined that the workers should be masters of their own destinies.

Xiaolu Guo was named one of Granta’s Best British Novelists in 2013. She studied at the Beijing Film Acadamy and received her MA from the National Film School in London. She has published seven novels in both English and Chinese. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She directed the award-winning films ‘She’, ‘A Chinese’ and ‘Once Upon A Time Proletarian’. Her new novel, I Am China, will be published this year by Chatto & Windus.

Related Books

I Am China

I Am China

Random House, 2014