The Book of Swindles review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Yinghui Wu’s review of The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection (Columbia UP, 2017), by Zhang Yingyu, translated by Christoper Rea and Bruce Rusk. The review appears below and at http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/yinghui-wu/. My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

The Book of Swindles
Selections from a Late Ming Collection

By Zhang Yingyu

Translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk


Reviewed by Yinghui Wu
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2018)


Zhang Yingyu, The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection Trs. Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017. xxxvi, 226 pp. $25. ISBN 978-0-231-17863-1 (paperback); $75, ISBN 9780231178624 (hardcover)

The Book of Swindles, by Zhang Yingyu 張應俞 (fl. 1612-17), is a collection of fascinating tales that speak to a common concern over time and across cultures—namely, anxiety about deception. A product of the publishing boom in seventeenth-century China, with a preface dated 1617, the book is “said to be the first Chinese story collection focused explicitly on the topic of fraud” (xiii). Ostensibly a manual for self-protection against scams, it belongs to a rich body of publications that promise to help their readers navigate the increasingly complex and perilous world of late Ming China.[1]Yet, this book serves equally well as a manual for swindlers (xiv).The author, also speaking as the commentator on his stories, often marvels at the crooks’ ingenuity while lamenting the moral decline of his age and blaming the victims for their folly or naïveté. The forty-four stories, elegantly translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk, offer a valuable source for specialists of late imperial China, as well as a good read for anyone looking for entertainment. Continue reading

Writing Beijing review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Lena Scheen’s review of Writing Beijing: Urban Spaces and Cultural Imaginaries in Contemporary Chinese Literature and Films (Lexington Books, 2016), by Yiran Zheng. The review appears below and and at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/lena-scheen/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Writing Beijing: Urban Spaces and Cultural Imaginations
in Contemporary Chinese Literature and Films

By Yiran Zheng


Reviewed by Lena Scheen
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2018)


Yiran Zheng, Writing Beijing: Urban Spaces and Cultural Imaginations in Contemporary Literature and Film Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016. v-xviii + 149 pp. ISBN: Hardback 978-1-4985-3101-6 • $79.00; ISBN: Paperback 978-1-4985-3103-0 • $42.99; ISBN: eBook 978-1-4985-3102-3  • $40.50

It was a map of Beijing that sparked Yiran Zheng’s interest in the subject for her book Writing Beijing: Urban Spaces and Cultural Imaginations in Contemporary Literature and Film. Looking at the city’s distinctive spatial structure of “square-like loops” (x), formed by its major ring roads, she noticed how one can read the history of the city in its architectural shape; from its centermost area, still largely consisting of narrow alleyways (胡同) lined with traditional Beijing-style courtyard houses (四合院), through the three- to four-story Soviet-style apartment blocks built from the 1950s to the 1970s (between the 2nd and 3rd ring roads), to the modern high rises that have sprung up since the 1980s (between the 3rd and 4th ring roads), and the recently built townhouses and single-family houses (outside the 4th ring road). In Writing Beijing, Zheng takes three of the city’s representative urban spaces—courtyard houses, military compounds, and (post)modern architecture—as the basis of the book’s three-part structure. Each part itself consists of three chapters. The first chapters of each part (chapters 1, 4, 7) investigate particular buildings and architecture as “representations of space” and analyze how they “reflect, embody, and implement power relations, such as power of the state and power between different social groups” (xii). The second chapters (2, 5, 8) discuss representative writers and filmmakers whose work either prominently features the particular space or reflects how residing there influenced them. The third and final chapters of each part (3, 6, 9) analyze literary representations of these urban forms in novels and films, “namely, how the city is perceived and presented in literature and film, as well as why they choose particular spaces to carry their imaginations” (xii). Continue reading

Queer Comrades review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Ari Larissa Heinrich’s review of Queer Comrades: Gay Identity and Tongzhi Activism in Postsocialist China (NIAS, 2018), by Hongwei Bao. The review appears below and can also be read online at http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/heinrich/.  My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Queer Comrades: Gay Identity and
Tongzhi Activism in Postsocialist China

By Hongwei Bao


Reviewed by Ari Larissa Heinrich
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2018)


Hongwei Bao, Queer Comrades: Gay Identity and Tongzhi Activism in Postsocialist China. Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2018. vi-xii + 265 pp. ISBN: Hardback 978-87-7694-234-2, £65.00; ISBN: Paperback 978-87-7694-236-6, £22.50

Followers of the mainstreaming and globalizing of gay rights, with antennae pointed toward the Sinosphere, may remember the controversial McDonald’s McCafe “coming out” ad released in Taiwan in 2016. In the ad, a boy comes out to his father by writing “I like guys” on his coffee cup. Spoiler alert: the father, who initially seems annoyed, eventually borrows his son’s pen and adds a few words of his own, so that the writing on the coffee cup now reads “I [accept that you] like guys.” Music swells as tears of relief well up in the son’s eyes. For me and for many of the students in my large undergraduate lecture classes on “Queer Chinese Cultures,” the ad’s carefully choreographed emotional manipulation is so successful that, even after viewing it many times, I still sometimes feel weepy at the end. How embarrassing. For though on the surface the ad seems to paint a utopian picture of familial acceptance in the age of same-sex marriage, historically speaking the ad actually reinforces ideas about patriarchal family values and the ideal citizen-consumer in Taiwan. When working with students for whom such a course may be the only substantive introduction to LGBTQ-spectrum issues that they ever have, I sometimes struggle to articulate how ads like this may seem to offer straightforward support of a liberal politics, when in fact they effectively obscure the many histories in which “coming out” is actually a late-breaking and ideologically complicated addition to the story of sexualities in Sinophone contexts. As Hongwei Bao indicates in the introduction to his new book Queer Comrades: Gay Identity and Tongzhi Activism in Postsocialist China, citing Fran Martin and others, many scholars have pointed out how the authenticity of one’s identity is not determined by concealment or disclosure. On the contrary, concealment and disclosure “are historically contingent. Indeed, for many gays and lesbians in China, one does not need to be completely ‘in’ or ‘out.’ Being ‘in’ and ‘out’ depends on the particular social setting and on the person they are with. When to conceal and when to disclose one’s identity, together with to whom, becomes a matter of politics” (53). Now that the coming-out narrative has reached the stage where it can be folded (alongside “marriage equality”) into mainstream commercial idioms, it becomes even more urgent to understand the specific history of how “gay” came to be defined in Sinophone settings. Hongwei Bao’s new book contributes substantially to this agenda, by providing an eminently teachable resource for students interested in understanding some of the early twenty-first century figurations that have informed contemporary Mainland Chinese cultural practices around gay identities. Continue reading

Fan Xiaochun breaks mold with new book

Source: China Daily (7/13/18)
Shanghai writer Fan Xiaochun breaks the philosophical mold with new book
By Xing Wen | chinadaily.com.cn

Fan Xiaochun [Photo provided to China Daily]

Fan Xiaochun’s newly-published book Jamais Vu, is a collection of 24 essays that vividly demonstrates the young artist’s spiritual achievements gained from her explorations into writing, painting, photography and documentary making.

“The book uses fictional settings, but it’s all about my real feelings and thoughts,” says the 31-year-old who has been billed as a “Fudan talent” for some years.

After studying at the journalism school of Fudan University, the Shanghai native has had published three books, gaining her recognition from celebrities such as director Long Danni and Taiwan-based actress Annie Shizuka Inou. Continue reading

Little Reunions review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Roy Bing Chan’s review of Little Reunions (New York Review of Books Classics, 2018), by Eileen Chang, translated by Jane Weizhen Pan and Martin Merz. The review appears below and can be read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/roy-chan-2/. My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Little Reunions

By Eileen Chang

Translated by Jane Weizhen Pan and Martin Merz


Reviewed by Roy Bing Chan
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2018)


Chang, Eileen. Little Reunions  Trs. Jane Weizhen Pan and Martin Merz. New York: New York Review of Books, 2018. ix + 332 pp. ISBN-13: 978-1-68137-127-6 (Paperback $16.95)

Jane Weizhen Pan and Martin Merz’s English translation of Eileen Chang’s Little Reunions (小團圓) will bring a wider appreciation for the scope of Chang’s literary production. The manuscript, completed in 1976, was left unpublished in Chang’s lifetime, an exemplar of the Russian idiom pisat’ v stol, or “writing for the drawer.” It did not appear in print until 2009, twenty-four years after her death. The novel loosely mirrors key moments in Chang’s own life and readers intrigued by Chang’s biography will flock to this book looking for more insights into her personal enigmas. But from another angle, the novel stands as a testament of how to narrate a life undone by history, all the while expressing the persistent desire to remain ultimately free from any historical overdetermination. Continue reading

Keywords in Chinese Internet Subcultures

Source: China Daily (7/18/18)
Decoding the language of the young
By Mei Jia | China Daily

Cover of The Book of Wallbreaking: Keywords in Chinese Internet Subcultures. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A new book tries to make sense of what the younger generation is saying, Mei Jia reports.

Peking University associate professor Shao Yanjun, 50, is not the first one to discover that the younger generation, growing up with smart devices and the internet, actually use a different language when they are online, and sometimes, offline too, which is not easy to understand for her and her peers.

Therefore she has become the first to direct and guide her doctoral and master’s students to write a book about keywords in Chinese internet subcultures.

A pioneer and established scholar on internet culture/literature studies, Shao began to give lectures on the campus about web novels and online literature in 2011. However, outside class, she felt at loss.

“Their language differed from what they used in class, and I noticed jargon,” she says.

“And sometimes the phrases seemed to be standard Chinese that you’re familiar with, but referred to different things,” she adds. Continue reading

The Borderlands of Asia review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Wei-chieh Tsai’s review of The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry (Cambria 2017), introduced and edited by Mark Bender. The review appears below and can be read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/tsai-wei-chieh/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy, Kirk A. Denton, editor

The Borderlands of Asia: 
Culture, Place, Poetry

Introduced and Edited by Mark Bender


Reviewed by Wei-chieh Tsai
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2018)


Mark Bender, ed. The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2017. v-xxii + 370 pp. ISBN: Hardcover 9781604979763 (USD 119.99)

Edited by Mark Bender, a specialist of Chinese literature and folklore at The Ohio State University, this book is a collection of poems penned by writers from various Asian border regions—Northeast India, Myanmar, the Southwest and Inner Asian frontiers of China, and Mongolia. Although some of the poems, especially those by Northeast Indian poets, were originally written in English, most are translations—from Burmese, Mongolian, Chinese, Tibetan, Nuoso, Hani, Khasi, and Manipuri—done by a group of translators. In translating these poems into English, the global “language of interaction” (p. xxi), the voices of poets from the borderlands of Asia can be heard by a wider audience. Bender’s informative introduction gives his readers a broad context for understanding the complicated histories and cultures of the areas and the poets included in the volume. Continue reading

Reading Lu Xun through Carl Jung review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul B. Foster’s review of Reading Lu Xun through Carl Jung (Cambria, 2018), by Carolyn T. Brown. The review appears below and can be read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/foster1/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Reading Lu Xun through Carl Jung

By Carolyn T. Brown


Reviewed by Paul B. Foster
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2018)


Carolyn T. Brown, Reading Lu Xun through Carl Jung Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2018. ix-xv + 293 pp. ISBN 978-1-60497-937-4 (Cloth $114.99).

Reading Lu Xun through Carl Jung is an amply annotated, firmly grounded, and compelling close reading of Lu Xun’s short stories from the perspective of Jungian psychoanalysis. This book is also a refreshing demonstration of how psychoanalysis can provide a new dimension of access to Lu Xun’s critical insight into the problems of the Chinese psyche vis-à-vis the social discourse of his age. The author shows familiarity with the main trends in Western Lu Xun studies, from the earlier works of Leo Ou-fan Lee, Theodore Huters, and Marston Anderson, to more recent critiques by Lydia Liu and Ming Dong Gu, just to name a few. Brown is concerned with what makes Lu Xun tick, not the authorial intention of his creative works, but his own inner workings as he grapples with issues of the Chinese people’s psyche, issues he himself faces and works out through his writing. Brown’s Jungian model, which includes a bifurcated ego/shadow inner tension, yields intriguing explanations concerning the process of therapy and identification of a cure—both for self and society—primarily grounded in challenging the individual’s resistance to change. Reading Lu Xun is dense (especially for novitiates to psychological analysis) but rewarding. It is composed of a detailed introduction, four main chapters, a conclusion, and an epilogue. Occasional in-text simplified Chinese characters are used for story titles and critical terminology. Continue reading

Beyond the Iron House review

Find below my review of Beyond the Iron House: Lu Xun and the Modern Chinese Literary Field (Routledge 2017), by Saiyin Sun. The review can also be read online here: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/kdenton/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Beyond the Iron House: 
Lu Xun and the Modern Chinese Literary Field

By Saiyin Sun


Reviewed by Kirk A. Denton
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2018)


Saiyin Sun, Beyond the Iron House: Lu Xun and the Modern Chinese Literary Field New York: Routledge, 2017. ix-xii + 212 pp. ISBN: 978-1-138-67082-2 (Hardcover) ISBN: 978-1-315-61743-5 (E-book).

In a 1936 essay entitled “Death” (死) written about a month before he died, Lu Xun included a sort of last will and testament in which he prescribed arrangements for his funeral and his legacy. It reads in part:

1. Do not, on account of the funeral, accept a penny from anyone—old friends exempted.

2. Just quickly put the body in the coffin and bury it at once.

3. Do not hold any commemorative activities.

4. Forget me and mind your own lives. If you don’t, you’re just fools. . .[1]

Once dead, of course, things were out of Lu Xun’s control. Against his wishes, his funeral became a highly scripted affair that garnered lavish attention in the Shanghai media, and commemorative events have been held every year on the anniversary of his death. Far from forgotten, Lu Xun has been remembered more than any other modern Chinese writer. That process of remembering Lu Xun has been a contested one, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—and Chairman Mao himself—were key agents involved in the construction of Lu Xun into a “Chinese Gorki,” as David Holm puts it.[2] Lu Xun’s iconic status in China is best captured in the fact that there are no less than six museums—one each in Shaoxing, Nanjing, Beijing, Xiamen, Guangzhou, and Shanghai—devoted to commemorating his life and works. Continue reading

Rereading the 1980s

Source: China Daily (6/22/18)
Revisiting the golden age of literature
By Yang Yang | China Daily

Chong Du Bashi Niandai (Reread the 1980s), by Zhu Wei. [Photo provided to China Daily]

After China’s reform and opening-up began in the late 1970s, the following decade saw a burst of literary activity, with today’s influential writers shaping their ideas and words back then.

In the preface of his new book, Chong Du Bashi Niandai (Reread the 1980s), literary critic Zhu Wei describes scenes from the decade in Beijing, saying that people would talk about literature all night long, or hang out like “lovers”, walking from modern author Zhang Chengzhi’s house to fellow writer Li Tuo’s. And after eating watermelon under streetlamps, the people would walk along a city street to another author Zheng Wanlong’s house.

Zhu also mentions that people watched rebroadcasts of World Cup soccer matches over drinks in the’80s.

From Franz Kafka and William Faulkner to Alain Robbe-Grillet, Juan Rulfo and Jorge Luis Borges, and from Jean-Paul Sartre to Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein-the discussions about the literary figures and their works were “like swallowing a date whole due to longtime hunger”, Zhu writes. Continue reading

Transpacific Attachments review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Sijia Yao’s review of Transpacific Attachments: Sex Work, Media Networks, and Affective Histories of Chineseness (Columbia UP, 2018), by Lily Wong. The review appears below, but is best read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/sijiayao/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Transpacific Attachments: Sex Work, Media
Networks, and Affective Histories of Chineseness

By Lily Wong


Reviewed by Sijia Yao
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2018)


Lily Wong, Transpacific Attachments: Sex Work, Media Networks, and Affective Histories of Chineseness New York: Columbia University Press, 2018. vii-xiv + 229 pp. ISBN: 978-0-231-18338-3 (Cloth $60.00); ISBN: 978-0-231-54488-7 (E-book $59.99)

The book is composed of an introduction and three parts. Parts I and II contain two chapters each, and Part III has one chapter and a coda. The three parts cover three historical intervals, respectively: imperialism/anti-imperialism in the early twentieth century; the Cold War era; and the contemporary global neoliberal order. Like Haiyan Lee in her Revolution of the Heart: A Genealogy of Love in China, 1900-1950, Wong historicizes and politicizes emotion and affect, which are usually understood as private rather than public. Building on the work of Lee, Lisa Rofel, and others, Wong tailors Raymond Williams’s “structure of feeling” framework to address three affective structures associated with each part of the book: “Pacific Crossing,” “Sinophonic,” and “Dwelling” (17).Intimately bound up with issues of affect, gender, race, geopolitics, politics, ethics, and modernity, the figure of the sex worker can be a poignant, complex, and defiant signifier in literature, film, and new media. Lily Wong’s new study takes a transpacific perspective on the sex worker and Chineseness, probing deeply beneath the discursive surface of this signifier and its history from the early twentieth century to the present. Wong’s Transpacific Attachments: Sex Work, Media Networks, and Affective Histories of Chineseness “identifies shifting formations of ‘Chinese’ attachments, or ‘Chineseness,’ through depictions of the sex worker in popular media” on both sides of the Pacific (6). Wong adopts the transpacific paradigm from Yunte Huang’s Transpacific Imagination to delineate the enduring features and persistent malleability of “Chineseness” in the oceanic framework. She also responds to Jing Tsu’s call to explore the understudied space between national or regional boundaries. Responding as well to the Sinophone critical interventions of Shu-mei Shih and David Der-wei Wang against Sino-centricism and the hegemonic narrative of Chineseness and its national literature, Wong theorizes a transcultural imagined Chinese community through analyses of five cases in popular Sinophone media. Drawing on a broad range of theories of affect, emotion, Sinophone studies, media studies, and cultural studies, Wong undertakes close readings of these cases, contextualizing, historicizing, and interpreting their reproduction, circulation, and reception. Continue reading

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Yan Liang’s review of Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories: A Parallel Text (Columbia UP, 2017), translated and edited by Aili Mu, with Mike Smith. The review appears below, but is best viewed online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/yanliang/. My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy, Kirk Denton, editor

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories:
A Parallel Text

Translated and edited by Aili Mu with Mike Smith


Reviewed by Yan Liang
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2018)


Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories: A Parallel Text. Translated and edited by Aili Mu with Mike Smith. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017. pp. 528. ISBN: 9780231181532 (paper); ISBN: 9780231181525 (hard cover); ISBN: 9780231543637 (e-book).

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories (2018) is a parallel-text (Chinese-English) collection of Chinese short-short stories translated and edited by Aili Mu in collaboration with poet and essayist Mike Smith. It is a delightful read for anyone curious about contemporary Chinese society. The English translations of the stories are smooth and graceful, despite Mu’s conscious choice—for the pedagogical sake of Chinese language learners—of translating the text more literally than literarily. With the addition of the parallel Chinese text and the thoughtfully designed teaching materials, including introductory essays, glossaries, reading questions, and author biographies, the book makes an easy-to-use and much-needed textbook for teachers and advanced students of Chinese language and culture. Continue reading

Simon Leys: Navigator between Worlds review

Source: NY Review of Books (June 28, 2018)
One Decent Man
Reviewed by Geremie R. Barmé

[Simon Leys: Navigator Between Worlds
by Philippe Paquet, translated from the French by Julie Rose
Carlton: La Trobe University Press/Black Inc., 664 pp., $35.00]

Pierre Ryckmans, who wrote under the name Simon Leys, on the Great Wall of China, 1955. Ryckmans Family Archives

1.

The thought of hearing back from Simon Leys filled me with dread. It was late 1976 and I was an exchange student at a university in Shenyang, in northeast China. I’d only recently learned that Pierre Ryckmans, the man who had taught me Chinese, was none other than Simon Leys, a writer both celebrated and reviled in the French-speaking world.

Mao Zedong had died in September. Not long after, Leys published an obituary in the Australian press. Mao, he said, had

outlived himself by some twenty years. If he had died a few years after the Liberation, he would have gone down in history as one of China’s most momentous leaders. Unfortunately, during the last part of his life, by stubbornly clinging to an outdated utopia, by becoming frozen in his own idiosyncrasies and private visions…he became in fact a major obstacle to the development of the Chinese revolution.

For nearly thirty years Mao had been the only fixed point in the tumultuous life of China. In the mid-1960s the uprising of the Red Guards, zealous high school students who attacked Mao’s enemies, had made the People’s Republic an epicenter of youthful rebellion, and although my original interest in China was inspired by Taoism and classical literature, I was also enamored of contemporary politics. Continue reading

Socialist Cosmopolitanism review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of  Tie Xiao’s review of Socialist Cosmopolitanism: The Chinese Literary Universe, 1945-1965 (Columbia UP, 2017), by Nicolai Volland. The review appears below, but is best read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/tie-xiao/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy, Kirk Denton, editor

Socialist Cosmopolitanism: The Chinese Literary Universe, 1945-1965

By Nicolai Volland


Reviewed by Tie Xiao
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May, 2018)


Nicolai Volland. Socialist Cosmopolitanism: The Chinese Literary Universe, 1945–1965 New York: Columbia University Press, 2017. x-xii + 281 pp. ISBN: 9780231183109. (Hardcover: $60.00 / £47.00).

This learned study examines the “world-orientedness” of Chinese literature of the 1950s. Socialist literature of the young PRC, as Nicolai Volland has convincingly demonstrated, was “a literature in the world, a literature of the world, a literature for the world” (3). It was shaped by and shaped the multiple and multidirectional flows of texts across national and linguistic borders, which constituted and characterized the emerging socialist literary universe. Reading the transnational and transcultural literary imaginaries as “configurations of world-ing” (4), Volland examines the roles that the literary world played in the making of the socialist world in the mid-twentieth century, tracing the transnational traffic in literary imagination. ​More important, reading world literature as a world-making activity reaffirms the importance of understanding, to borrow Pheng Cheah’s apt words, “the world as an ongoing, dynamic process of becoming, something continually made and remade . . . a dynamic process with a practical-actional dimension instead of a spatio-geographical category.”[1] Socialist Cosmopolitanism invites the reader to rethink the relationship between the force of literature and the openness of the world. Continue reading

Supernatural Sinophone Taiwan review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Alvin K. Wong’s review of Supernatural Sinophone Taiwan and Beyond (Cambria 2016), by Chia-rong Wu. The review appears below, but is best read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/alvin-wong/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy, Kirk Denton, editor

Supernatural Sinophone Taiwan and Beyond
By Chia-rong Wu


Reviewed by Alvin K. Wong
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May, 2018)


Chia-rong Wu. Supernatural Sinophone Taiwan and Beyond Amherst, NY: Cambria, 2016. vii-viii + 230 pp. ISBN: 9781604979213. (Hardcover: $ 109.99).

Chia-rong Wu’s Supernatural Sinophone Taiwan and Beyond is a most welcome addition to the burgeoning field of Sinophone studies. Sinophone, in its inaugural definition by Shu-mei Shih, refers to “a network of places of cultural production outside China and on the margins of China and Chineseness, where a historical process of heterogenizing and localizing of continental Chinese culture has been taking place for several centuries.”[1] Wu’s book makes three important contributions to the field of Sinophone studies. First, in connecting the zhiguai (志怪) tradition from the large canvas of premodern Chinese literature to contemporary Sinophone literature in Taiwan, Wu argues that “the ancient Chinese tradition of strange writing is still undead and further transforms in the literary production of Sinophone Taiwan” (8). Second, while it highlights manifestations of traditional strange writing in terms of issues of ethnicity, race, gender, and localism in the context of modern Taiwan history, the book also contributes to trans-spatial and trans-historical studies of both Chinese and Sinophone literature. This becomes apparent when Wu traces how figurations of the strange, the supernatural, and the spectral are linked to often traumatic narratives of border-crossing from the rich and painful history of Taiwan’s colonial past and postcolonial present. Finally, the “Introduction” demonstrates how strange narratives exemplify “an act of writing back” to dominant discourses of Chineseness, patriarchy, utilitarianism, and various forms of Sinocentrism (15). Continue reading