The Blue Sky (Der blaue Himmel) by Galsan Tschinag is Ann Morgan's choice (see her blog, 27 Oct). It's from Mongolia rather than China, but about life in the Altai mountains.
Ann Morgan has set herself the Herculean task of reading a book/story from each of 196 countries within 12 months. Her deadline is 31 December 2012. It's a great blog - so interesting. But what will she recommend for China?!
From Mongolia: A High Point, October 27, 2012: "Born as Irgit Schynykbajoglu Dshurukuwaa (his name in Tuvan), Tschinag adopted German as his written language during his time studying at the University of Leipzig in the sixties before becoming a singer, storyteller, poet, shaman and Tuvan chief. Angered by the impact of the Communist regime on his people, he led a huge caravan of Tuvans back to their ancestral home in the Altai Mountains and campaigns for the rights of the group to this day. He also apparently managed to cure himself of a life-threatening heart condition using his shamanic powers. ...
Drawing heavily on Tschinag’s childhood, The Blue Sky is the coming of age story of a young shepherd boy in the Altai Mountains. On the face of it, he and his family pursue the nomadic herding ways of life that Tuvans have practised for generations; yet far away in the interior of Mongolia change is afoot with the influence of the Soviet Union prompting seismic shifts that will ripple out to the farthest corners of the country and alter the boy’s life for ever."