In the tradition of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress comes an earthy, wildly imaginative and tragi-comic love story set in a remote mountain village in northwestern China. Xiezi (meaning 'peg') is the eldest of four girls - tall, athletic and dark skinned. Living with her downtrodden mother and her tyrannical party official father, she daily suffers the scorn of being born female, and if this isn't enough, must also live with the tragic deaths of her three younger brothers... Next door lives Dandan, born a boy but, according to ancient tradition, raised by his grandmother as a girl till the age of 12. After suffering endless schoolyard taunts for his feminine ways, he is then initiated into 'manhood' in an ancient and bizarre ritual. Of course 12 years as a girl can't be shaken off so easily, and Dandan struggles with his new identity. As the madness of the Cultural Revolution conspires with mother nature and sweeps through the village, Xiezi, Dandan and their families suffer and triumph, laugh and cry, and try as best they can to make sense of the new world order. And then, incredibly, after flood and famine, violence and hypocrisy, denunciation and recrimination, a tender love blooms between two outcasts - as yin and yang are miraculously fused.