Fu Ping review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Elena Martín Enebral’s review of Fu Ping (Columbia UP, 2019), by Wang Anyi and translated by Howard Goldblatt. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/martin-enebral/. My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC literary translations book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Fu Ping

By Wang Anyi
Translated by Howard Goldblatt


Reviewed by Elena Martín Enebral
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2019)


Wang Anyi, Fu Ping. Tr. Howard Goldblatt. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. 296 pp. ISBN: 9780231193221 (Hardcover); ISBN: 9780231550208 (E-book)

The novel Fu Ping (富萍) was first published in the literary magazine Harvest (收获) in 2000. Wang Anyi (王安忆, 1954-) described it as reflecting almost a decade of inquiry, the result of which satisfied her as much as her acclaimed novel Song of Everlasting Sorrow (长恨歌, 1995), for which she obtained the supreme Chinese writing award, the Mao Dun Prize, that same year.[1] With good reason, therefore, we can welcome the recent publication in English of this novel, essential as it is to understanding the creative evolution of one of the most emblematic figures of contemporary Chinese literature, and most especially when translated by the renowned Howard Goldblatt.

The English edition opens with a note from the author that reveals some of the sources of inspiration for the novel. A trip to Yangzhou (扬州) reminds Wang Anyi of a beautiful poem by Li Bai (李白) that takes her back in time to her childhood and her nanny, who was originally from that town. Poetry and memory fuse to evoke, before her eyes, the image of a face belonging to the heroine of her novel: Fu Ping, a young woman from a village near Yangzhou. Fu Ping moves to Shanghai in the mid-1960s to meet Nainai (奶奶), the adoptive grandmother of her future husband whom she has only seen on a handful of occasions. Wang Anyi links the fate of her heroine with another personal memory: a tranquil journey along the Suzhou River (苏州河) in one of the motorized scows that workers from Subei (苏北) use to transport waste daily outside the city of Shanghai. Continue reading

Yellow Perils review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Anne Witchard’s review of Yellow Perils: China Narratives in the Contemporary World (Hawaii, 2018), edited by Franck Billé and Sören Urbansky. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/witchard/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Yellow Perils: 
China Narratives in the Contemporary World

Edited by Franck Billé and Sören Urbansky


Reviewed by Anne Witchard
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2019)


Franck Billé and Sören Urbansky, eds., Yellow Perils: China Narratives in the Contemporary World Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2018. Viii + 276. ISBN: 978-0-8248-7579-4 (hardcover).

In the last decade the emergence of China as a global superpower has provoked an array of responses that have prompted comparisons with the early-twentieth century rhetoric of a Yellow Peril. Yellow Perils: China Narratives in the Contemporary World is a timely collection, coming as it does when the might of Beijing indeed poses a significant threat, to Muslims in Xinjiang Province for example, and (at the time of writing) to democracy activists in Hong Kong. It is all too easy to resort to inflammatory responses and indeed hostile and/or prejudicial treatment that fails to distinguish between the actions of China’s current Party State regime and ethnic Chinese in the PRC and across the globe.

Despite the time elapsed from research to print and the astonishing rapidity of change in the current political scene, Yellow Perils’s relevancy may perhaps be greater than might have been predicted by its editors. It is unfortunately all too easy to find statements that reflect Sinophobic predispositions informing some decision-making under the Trump administration. In April 2019, Kiron Skinner, director of policy planning at the State Department said at a security forum in Washington, D.C.: “This is a fight with a really different civilization and a different ideology and the United States hasn’t had that before.” Of course, as any high school student might remind her, the notorious Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) repealed only in 1943, was formulated upon exactly this racialized and divisive narrative. Continue reading

Modern Archaics review by Jon Kowallis

Source: 长江学术 (8/3/19)
寇志明著 卢姗译 | 现代“拟古主义者”:再论“旧派诗人”与其继承者
From: 寇志明 卢姗 长江学术

现代“拟古主义者”:再论“旧派诗人”与其继承者
——论《现代“拟古主义者”:1900—1937中国诗词传统的延续和创新》
〔澳〕寇志明  著 卢  姗  译
(新南威尔士大学,澳大利亚  悉尼  NSW 2052;浙江大学 中文系,浙江  杭州  310028)

摘要:吴盛青教授在《现代“拟古主义者”:1900—1937中国诗词传统的延续和创新》这本书中,通过研究20世纪初至日本侵华战争爆发前夕词和诗的新变化,挑战了在1911年辛亥革命推翻清政府统治和倡导白话文的新文化运动兴起之后旧体诗已经失去它原本的地位和意义这一观点。吴盛青认为,20世纪初期旧体诗的创作为诗人们提供了文本和社会空间,由此诗人们得以反思文学主体性、文学想象以及文体创新,并且重新确立集体认同感,加深文化记忆。这些观点固然不错,但我认为,旧体诗还为他们提供了更加权威的文化话语权,而且这样的话语权在一个瞬息万变的世界中显得愈发重要。书中富有逻辑性的阐述,包括对传统和现代二分主义的颠覆均具有启发意义。在这样一种全新的看似矛盾却又互相依赖的结构中,“传统”成为了一个具有生命力的领域。我们借由“传统”,可以探索“现代主义者”和“拟古主义者”之间动态的互相作用和对峙冲突;并且在高度美学化的形式和实践中,得以更加深入地了解“传统”的意义。 Continue reading

The Translatability of Revolution review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Yi Zheng’s review of The Translatability of Revolution: Guo Moruo and Twentieth-Century Chinese Culture (Harvard University Asia Center), by Pu Wang. The review appears below and at is online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/yizheng2/.

My thanks to MCLC literary studies book review editor, Nicholas Kaldis, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

The Translatability of Revolution:
Guo Moruo and Twentieth-Century Chinese Culture

By Pu Wang


Reviewed by Yi Zheng
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)


Pu Wang, The Translatability of Revolution: Guo Moruo and Twentieth-Century Chinese Culture Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2018. xvi + 336 pp. ISBN: 978-0-674-98718-0.

Owing largely to the controversial nature of his political affiliations and intellectual achievements, Guo Moruo has to date not received adequate academic attention in the English-speaking world. There are notable studies of Guo’s historiography, literary theory and practice, and his intellectual and life choices.[1] His early poems and poetics have also received substantial treatment.[2] But as one of twentieth-century China’s most important poets, translators, dramatists, and scholars, his work is understudied and underappreciated. The Translatability of Revolution: Guo Moruo and Twentieth-Century Chinese Culture is ground-breaking in affording Guo his rightful place. Pu Wang’s comprehensive new study of Guo’s life and work is not only a first, but also an intellectual and literary-historical tour-de-force that both demonstrates excellent scholarship and offers remarkable insights into Chinese literature, history, comparative literature, and translation studies. Continue reading

Forging the Golden Urn review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Joseph Lawson’s review of Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet (Columbia, 2018), by Max Oidtmann. The review appears below and at its online home here: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/lawson/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire
and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet

By Max Oidtmann


Reviewed by Joseph Lawson
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)


Max Oidtmann, Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet New York: Columbia University Press, 2018. Xvii + 330 pp. ISBN: 978-0-231-18406-9 (cloth).

The Geluk church, headed by the Dalai Lama, was the most powerful institution in the Qing Empire not under the control of the Qing court. It is still arguably the largest extra-bureaucratic nongovernmental organization in China, as Max Oidtmann points out in the introduction of his terrific book on relations between the Qing court and the Geluk hierarchy. Neglected relative to Manchu or Mongol archives until recently, the Qing Empire’s Tibetan institutions and sources are the subject of an emerging body of research by Paul Nietupski, Peter Schweiger, Yudru Tsomu, and now Oidtmann with this new book on how the Qing court asserted control over the process for recognizing the reincarnations of powerful lamas. Continue reading

Experimental Chinese Literature review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jacob Edmond’s review of Experimental Chinese Literature: Translation, Technology, Poetics (Brill 2018), by Tong King Lee. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/edmond/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Experimental Chinese Literature:
Translation, Technology, Poetics

By Tong King Lee


Reviewed by Jacob Edmond
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)


Tong King Lee, Experimental Chinese Literature: Translation, Technology, Poetics. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2018. viii + 182 pp. ISBN: 978-90-04-29337-3.

“In translating a work, I mistake it for my own,” writes Taiwanese poet Chen Li 陳黎. More and more writers today are making their texts from other texts through translation, cultural borrowing, and, increasingly, through the affordances of new media technologies. Around the world, their readers are likewise searching for new ways of understanding and reading this literature of repetition, translation, and remediation.

Tong King Lee 李忠慶 takes up this challenge in his book Experimental Chinese LiteratureTranslation, Technology, Poetics. Lee cites Chen Li’s statement in making the case for the inextricable relationship between poetic creation and translation in contemporary Chinese experimental literature (80). Lee defines experimental literature as “works that tap into various technologies in foregrounding their materiality.” For Lee, “experimental literature is . . . characterized by the interplay between the corporeality of the sign . . . and the travel of the text across languages and media” (166). Lee’s concern is thus primarily with works of poetry and contemporary art that highlight their own material qualities—the texture of the page, the shape that writing makes on a flickering screen, or in the space of a park in an open-air exhibition—and that explore textual translations not just between languages but also, importantly, between media. Continue reading

Mouse vs Cat review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Xiaorong Li’s review of Mouse vs Cat in Chinese Literature: Tales and Commentary (University of Washington Press, 2019), translated and edited by Wilt Idema. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/lixiaorong/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Mouse vs Cat in Chinese Literature: 
Tales and Commentary

Translated and introduced by Wilt Idema


Reviewed by Xiaorong Li

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)


Mouse vs. Cat in Chinese Literature: Tales and Commentary, translated and introduced by Wilt L. Idema. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2019. 272 pp. ISBN 9780295744834 (paperback); 9780295744858 (hardcover)

Mouse vs Cat in Chinese Literature is a new book by Wilt Idema, yet another showcase of his extraordinary scholarship and translation skills. Judging by its cover, the book might appear to be just a collection of translated cat-mouse tales with the translator’s introduction, but it is much more than that. In addition to the translation of important texts, it is a broad and rich survey not only of literary representations of mouse versus cat within the larger context of Chinese history, but also of anthropomorphism in world literature.

The book begins with an introduction on animal tales in various literary traditions around the world and continues with general observations on the distinctive ways in which Chinese literature of different historical periods and cultural genres features animals. Although there is a lack of “talking animals” in the classics or other forms of high literature, popular entertainment literature, Idema observes, is rich in animal characters that plead for justice, such as the mouse in underworld court case stories. Continue reading

Imperfect Understanding review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Li Guo’s review of Imperfect Understanding: Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities (Cambria 2018), by Wen Yuan-ning, edited by Christopher Rea. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/li-guo2/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Imperfect Understanding:
Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities

By Wen Yuan-ning and others
Edited by Christopher Rea


Reviewed by Li Guo
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)


Imperfect Understanding: Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities by Wen Yuan-ning and others Edited by Christopher Rea. Amherst: Cambria Press, 2018. 315 pp. ISBN: 978-1-60497-943-5.

Part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, edited by Victor H. Mair, Christopher Rea’s edited collection Imperfect Understanding: Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities by Wen Yuan-ning and others presents in their entirety the essays in the column “Unedited Biographies,” which ran from 1934 to 1935 in the prominent Republican English-language journal The China Critic 中國評論週報. As Rea points out, “The China Critic, for which Wen [Yuan-ning] served as a contributing editor, is emblematic of the robustness of foreign-language publishing in 1930s China” (4). Having appeared weekly for a dozen years before the war, the journal was one of the many general or specialist foreign-language periodicals that published in English, French, Japanese, German, Russian, and other languages in Republican China. From January through December of 1934, the journal published a series of fifty-one succinct “Unedited Biographies” of contemporary celebrities in China. Midway through the year, the column was retitled “Intimate Portraits.” In 1935, seventeen of these popular essays, all authored by Wen Yuan-ning 溫源寧 (1900-1984), were republished as the book Imperfect Understanding. As Rea insightfully states, the essays “testify to the vitality of Anglophone literary cosmopolitan culture in 1930s China, with flashes of wit, erudition, and panache” (2). For today’s readers, these biographical essays on key cultural figures draw scholarly attention to the scene of Republican multilingual print media and their representation of socio-political topics and discussions of culture and entertainment. Continue reading

Waste Tide review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Cara Healey’s review of Waste Tide, by Chen Qiufan and translated by Ken Liu. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/healey/. My thanks to Michael Berry, our translations book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Waste Tide

By Chen Qiufan
Translated by Ken Liu


Reviewed by Cara Healey
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)


Chen Qiufan, The Waste Tide Tr. by Ken Liu. New York: Tor Books, 2019. 352 pp. ISBN-10: 0765389312; ISBN-13: 978-0765389312

Chen Qiufan’s 陈楸帆 novel Waste Tide (荒潮), expertly translated by Ken Liu, is a significant contribution to the growing genre of Chinese science fiction. The genre has earned acclaim both for its imaginative nature and as a lens into contemporary China; Waste Tide succeeds on both fronts. Many of Chinese science fiction’s recent milestones have centered around Liu Cixin 刘慈欣. Liu’s The Three-Body Problem (三体) (also translated by Ken Liu) won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015. Frant Gwo’s 郭帆 2019 film adaptation of Liu Cixin’s The Wandering Earth (流浪地球) earned $700 million at the box office, becoming the second-highest grossing Chinese film of all time, and was recently released on Netflix. Waste Tide follows in the footsteps of these achievements while also demonstrating that that there is more to Chinese science fiction than Liu Cixin. Continue reading

Footbinding as Fashion review

Source: Taipei Times (6/27/19)
BOOK REVIEW: Bound for better things?
With Taiwan as the centerpiece, John Robert Shepherd builds an exhaustive argument about the endurance of foot-binding in China and Taiwan despite official attempts to curb the practice
By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Footbinding as Fashion: Ethnicity, Labor, and Status in Traditional China, By John Robert Shepherd (University of Washington Press, 2018)

While Footbinding As Fashion looks at the practice in “traditional China,” much of this book is about Taiwan. The nation’s Hoklo majority brought the custom with them when they emigrated en masse across the Taiwan Strait, keeping the majority of their women’s feet tiny and their gait hobbled for centuries until the Japanese colonizers arrived and stamped out the practice.

But most importantly, it was the Japanese who produced the “only systematic accounting of the practice of footbinding that was ever produced” through the 1905 and 1915 censuses of Taiwan, where the author could cross-reference rich data sets that included languages spoken, Chinese province of origin (or Aboriginal), livelihood and whether they were “ever-bound” (currently bound or once bound and released) or “never-bound.”

As a result, researchers can obtain details as specific as the percentage of Hoklo-speaking Taiwanese with ancestry from Fujian Province between the ages of 21 and 30 who at some point stopped binding their feet. The dates are also crucial because the Japanese intensified their efforts in eradicating footbinding in the 1910s until they outright banned it in 1915.

The Japanese made such detailed records not only to keep tabs on the population and prove themselves as “model” colonizers to the international world, but also because they sought to eradicate the “three degenerate practices” among local people: footbinding, queue wearing and opium smoking. The data reveals that footbinding was almost exclusively a Hoklo practice, accounting for 99.6 percent of “ever-bound” women in Taiwan. Continue reading

Fact in Fiction review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Johanna Ransmeier’s review of Fact in Fiction: 1920s China and Ba Jin’s Family, by Kristin Stapleton. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/ransmeier/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the book to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Fact in Fiction: 1920s China and Ba Jin’s Family

By Kristin Stapleton


Reviewed by Johanna S. Ransmeier
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2019)


Kristin Stapleton, Fact in Fiction: 1920s China and Ba Jin’s Family. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016. Iv-ix + 280. ISBN: 978-1-5036-0106-2.

For Kristin Stapleton, Ba Jin’s 巴金 most famous novel, Family (家), offers more than a lens on the collision between traditional Confucian values and Republican China’s revolutionary May Fourth era. From its publication as a serial between 1931 and 1932 to the present, early twentieth century activists and later scholars have employed the novel as convenient shorthand for the weaknesses of traditional China. The Gao household came to epitomize the unreasonable and backward demands of traditional family life in a modernizing world. In Fact in Fiction, Stapleton deftly expands on the novel, using its characters, Ba Jin’s life, and his own family, to launch her own finely wrought exploration of the author’s rapidly changing world.

In her introduction, Stapleton observes that critics at the time observed how Ba Jin’s novels failed to sufficiently capture the city in which their events are set. Instead, they contributed to the creation of “a stereotypical ‘traditional’ China that could be attacked by political and social activists of the 1930s and 1940s” (5). Yet, even given its universal critique of Chinese patriarchy, Stapleton demonstrates how Family, along with subsequent books in the Turbulent Stream (激流三部曲) trilogy, are deeply rooted in the particular culture of Chengdu in the 1920s. Continue reading

Empires of Dust review

Source: LARB, China Channel (5/27/19)
Socialist Literature for the Capitalist Era
By Dylan Levi King

Dylan Levi King reviews Empires of Dust by Jiang Zilong

Jiang Zilong’s novel Empires of Dust, newly translated by Olivia Milburn and Christopher Payne, is unlike anything else published in translation from Chinese in the past decade or so. Jiang, a 78-year-old native of Hebei Province, made a name for himself with A Day in the Life of the Chief of the Electrical Equipment Bureau (机电局长的一天), a 1976 novella first criticized for revisionism and then praised as the future of Chinese literature. Decades later, in 2008, came Empires of Dust (农民帝国), a sprawling epic of modern Chinese history that can only be defined as capitalist realism.

Jiang comes from the same literary background that produced established names such as Mo YanYan Lianke and Jia Pingwa. All of those writers got their start with politically-approved hack work, too. But while they went in other directions, Jiang Zilong continued to write in a literary style codified in the 1950s. Although he published most of his major works in the 1980s and 1990s, and Empires of Dust in the mid-2000s, Jiang is something of a living literary fossil. To understand his work, one has to step back to the era of socialist realism and revolutionary romanticism. Continue reading

I Love XXX and Other Plays review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of John B. Weinstein’s review of I Love XXX and Other Plays, by Meng Jinghui, edited by Claire Conceison. The review appears below and at its online home http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/john-weinstein/. My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

I Love XXX and Other Plays

By Meng Jinghui
Edited by Claire Conceison


Reviewed by John B. Weinstein
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2019)


Meng Jinghui, I Love XXX and Other Plays Ed. Claire Conceison. New York: Seagull Books, 2017. Viii+355 pp.+DVD. $45.00 ISBN 9780857423849

I nearly encountered Meng Jinghui’s 孟京辉 play Longing for Worldly Pleasures (思凡) in 1998, when I arrived in Beijing for a few weeks of research for my dissertation on the development of modern comic drama in China. When I met with a theater official in Beijing, I asked what I should see while there; although I cannot recall what he did ultimately suggest I see, I do recall him showing me a program or poster or some such artifact for a production called Longing for Worldly Pleasures.  That, he noted, was what I should have seen, but its run was already over. Had I only planned the trip better.

What I did not yet know, and maybe no one truly knew, though perhaps this official surmised it, was that Meng Jinghui would become THE big thing in Chinese drama in the coming years, and his work, though by no means strictly comedy—and by no means strictly any one thing—might have formed the ending of my research project. To this date, while I have been fortunate enough to see the English-language adaptation of Head without Tailreferenced in the volume’s introduction, and even more fortunate to spend an evening hanging out with Meng himself in his hotel room in Boston, I have never seen a production of Meng’s work within China itself. Can a volume of English translations of Meng Jinghui’s work compensate? Continue reading

Blood Letters of a Martyr

Source: LARB, China Channel (5/19/19)
Blood Letters of a Martyr
By Ting Guo
Ting Guo talks to Lian Xi about his new biography of Lin Zhao

On May 31, 1965, 33-year-old Lin Zhao was tried in Shanghai and sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment. She was charged as the lead member of a counter-revolutionary clique that had published an underground journal decrying communist misrule and Mao’s Great Leap Forward, a collectivization campaign that caused an unprecedented famine and claimed at least 36 million lives between 1959 and 1961.

“This is a shameful ruling!” Lin Zhao wrote on the back of the verdict the next day, in her own blood. Three years later, she was executed by firing squad under specific instructions from Chairman Mao himself.

Lin Zhao’s father committed suicide a month after Lin’s arrest, and her mother died a while  after her execution. In Shanghai, where I grew up and where Lin was tried, imprisoned and killed, the story (the sort told only in private) goes that Lin’s mother was asked to pay for the bullets that killed her daughter. It is also said (in private) that in the years that followed, at the Bund, the former International Settlement on the Huangpu River, one could see Lin’s mother crying and asking for Lin’s return. Continue reading

Liao Yiwu chronicles the ‘thugs’ who survived Tiananmen

Source: Quartz (5/7/19)
A Chinese writer in exile chronicles the lives of the “thugs” who survived Tiananmen Square in 1989
By Isabella Steger

Among the ever-growing number of Chinese dissidents living in Berlin is writer Liao Yiwu, who escaped to safety in Germany in 2011.

Liao was imprisoned in 1990 for four years for publicly reciting his poem, Massacre, which was written on the morning of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on June 4, 1989, and dedicated to the victims. After he was freed, he wrote a number of books exploring the lives of the downtrodden in China, all of which are banned there. He continued to be subject to intense surveillance and travel restrictions after his release.

A month before the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, his book Bullets and Opium, a collection of stories of people who survived the incident, will be published in English for the first time. It was previously published in Taiwan and Germany, and will this year also be translated into Japanese and French.

The stories focus not on the student protesters whose names and experiences, Liao says, are well known, but on the lives of the ordinary, working-class citizens who bore the brunt of the army’s attacks. Liao details how these “thugs,” as they were labeled by the Communist Party, lived on the margins of society after they were released from prison, where they were subject to hard labor and torture. Liao is particularly interested in how this shaped love and sex for these men. “Many of those arrested were young men aged between 18 to 20. They never learned anything about women or relationships while they were in prison,” Liao told Quartz. “When they came out, the world had changed… And so, impotence became a common problem.” Continue reading