Red Legacies in China review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Xing Fan’s review of Red Legacies in China: Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution (Harvard University Asia Center, 2016), edited by Jie Li and Enhua Zhang. The review appears below, but is best read online at:

http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/xingfan/

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

Enjoy,

Kirk A. Denton, Editor

Red Legacies in China:
Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution

Edited by Jie Li and Enhua Zhang


Reviewed by Xing Fan
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2017)


Jie Li and Enhua Zhang, eds., Red Legacies in China: Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution>. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2016. 424 pp. ISBN: 9780674737181

Red Legacies in China: Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution pays close attention to three interconnected questions: What constitutes red legacies in post-Mao China? How do these red legacies interact with the present? And what do we make of these interactions? The anthology includes twelve essays whose authors employ multidisciplinary, multifaceted, and multidimensional approaches, interpretations, observations, and reflections. Red Legacies in China is an important title for scholars, educators, students, and general readers who are interested in the cultural legacies of the Communist Revolution, read in the context of China’s economic, political, and ideological transformations. Continue reading

Shenzheners review

Source: Chinese Literature of the Americas 紅杉林: 美洲華人文藝 (12.1, Spring 2017)
China: Loneliness behind Sound and Fury—– On Xue Yiwei’s Shenzheners
Reviewed by Amy Hawkins

There is a temptation commonly indulged amongst China watchers to bemoan the loss of the “real China”. With the rapid urbanisation and globalisation of the past few decades, China is, of course, not what it used to be. Where there were once stony paths and local residents nursing flasks of boiled water, you can now buy decaf soy lattes. The “locals” you meet in any given city in China are unlikely to be anything of the sort – one of the many demographic changes that have reshaped China’s landscape is the huge migration of people towards the cities and new economic centres of China. This is most evident at Chinese New Year, when tens of millions of people return to their hometowns to celebrate Spring Festival with their families, and become part of the biggest annual human migration in the world. The cities are deserted. Continue reading

Can Xue’s Frontier review (1)

List members who read my review of Frontier should know that the word “regressed,” an editorial intervention, in the phrase “Ge Fei and Yu Hua regressed to representational prose,” has been changed back to my original “returned” in an updated version online. I in no way meant to imply that authors’ choice to re-engage with literary realism constituted “regression.”

Canaan Morse <canaan.morse@gmail.com>

Can Xue’s Frontier review

Source: Music and Literature (3/14/17)
CAN XUE’S FRONTIER
Reviewed by Canaan Morse

Frontier by Can Xue tr. Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping (Open Letter, March 2017) Reviewed by Canaan Morse

Frontier by Can Xue tr. Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping (Open Letter, March 2017)

Reading is an act that requires memory. As a reader’s eyes move through text, the connections between sequences of events, characters and parts of the psyche, or even such micro elements as first and last sentences, and even subject and predicate, only become comprehensible when they can be recalled and reconstituted in the human mind. Likewise, the act of narration traditionally involves a mnemonic operation: the narrative includes “first” and “last” sentences, and introduces characters, themes and plots in ways that reward the use of memory. At the heart of this dialogue between narrator and reader is a pact of comprehensibility, enforced by tradition; two thousand years ago, Aristotle demanded that time, place, and action be unified in drama, but that compact had been around long before he, and continues to hold sway in the mainstream today. Even as innumerable creative writers have bent or broken that pact in innumerable ways, most of us begin a book with the fundamental assumption that it will be upheld on a sentence-to-sentence level. Continue reading

The Edge of Knowing review

MCLC and the MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Laurence Coderre’s review of The Edge of Knowing: Dreams, History, and Realism in Modern Chinese Literature (University of Washington Press, 2016), by Roy Bing Chan. The review appears below, but is best read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/coderre/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

The Edge of Knowing: Dreams, History,
and Realism in Modern Chinese Literature

By Roy Bing Chan


Reviewed by Laurence Coderre
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2017)


Roy Bing Chan. The Edge of Knowing: Dreams, History, and Realism in Modern Chinese Literature. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2016. xi, 221 pp. ISBN: 9780295998992; $50.00 (hardcover)

The historical stakes, ethical pitfalls, and representational limitations of Chinese realism as a twentieth-century literary practice constitute well-worn terrain for the field of modern Chinese literature. Indeed, one might even suggest that these concerns are foundational to the discipline as a whole. Whether in the erstwhile construction or ongoing deconstruction of Cold War-era Chinese literary historiography, realism—and its discontents—must always be reckoned with. More specifically, the preoccupation with the real remains a—if not the—dominant historiographical thread connecting the literary engagements of the May Fourth generation, the critical realism of the 1930s, and the effort to remake the world through literature and art undertaken during the Mao period. We, collectively, know this narrative by heart, and although there may be some disagreement on the particulars—what about modernism? to what extent are all-out critiques of realism anachronistic?—we generally abide by this account’s basic tenets. Continue reading

Iron Moon review (2)

I’d like to second Martin Winter’s praise. Prof. van Crevel’s review is a masterpiece that balances nuanced judgments, a wide-angle view, and deftly-chosen details about both the book and the film.

It will be interesting to see — perhaps five years from now — what impact the two Iron Moons and all the publicity will have had on the (surviving) poets.

Andrew Clark <aec@raggedbanner.com>

Iron Moon review (1)

This is a great review. Very detailed, all interesting details that make you want to check out the book, the books and the film, the subjects in question.

POETRY

poetry
is impo
rtant
truth
is impo
tent
or is it
or are you

MW February 2017

I wrote this one the day before Maghiel van Crevel’s review of Iron Moon came out. It came out of another poem I wrote after reading another recent post on the MCLC list about an article called Best Investigative Stories in China 2016. Continue reading

Iron Moon review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Maghiel van Crevel’s review of Iron Moon: An Anthology of Chinese Migrant Worker Poetry (Buffalo: White Pines, 2016), edited by Qin Xiaoyu and translated by Eleanor Goodman, and the sister documentary film Iron Moon, directed by Qin Xiaoyu and Wu Feiyue. The review appears below, but is best read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/vancrevel4/

My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Iron Moon: An Anthology of
Chinese Migrant Worker Poetry
and
Iron Moon (the film)

Edited by Qin Xiaoyu, Tr. by Eleanor Goodman / Directed by Qin Xiaoyu and Wu Feiyue


Reviewed by Maghiel van Crevel
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2017)


Qin Xiaoyu, ed, Iron Moon: An Anthology of Chinese Migrant Worker Poetry. Translated by Eleanor Goodman. Buffalo NY: White Pine Press, 2016.

Poetry is the most ubiquitous of literary genres. It is written and recited and read and heard for families and festivals, in love and on stage, in prayers and protests, at imperial courts and in factories. In China, associations of poetry and factories, and of poetry and manual labor at large, are anything but far-fetched. One recalls the story of poetry production, which is really the only right word here, being whipped up to keep up with steel production during the Great Leap Forward (quite aside from the results in terms of quality, for poetry or for steel). And less frenetic, more sustainable instances of the linkage of poetry and labor throughout the Mao era, with factories – and drilling rigs, construction sites, and so on – generally depicted as good places. But today, poetry + factories + China conjure up a different picture. One thinks not of the proletariat but of the precariat, and not of glory but of misery. Continue reading

Li Yiyun memoir

Source: NYT (2/15/17)
The Rare Writer Who Hates the Word ‘I’
By JIAYANG FAN

DEAR FRIEND, FROM MY LIFE I WRITE TO YOU IN YOUR LIFE
By Yiyun Li
208 pp. Random House. $27.

“Why write autobiographically?” the Chinese-American author Yiyun Li asks in this new collection of essays, “Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life,” the closest thing to an autobiography she has ever published. It is a question Li takes seriously and explores tirelessly, not least because she professes an unease with the assertion of the pronoun “I.” It is a “melodramatic” word, Li writes. “The moment that I enters my narrative my confidence crumbles.” This a remarkable statement in a volume that is essentially memoir.

Continue reading

The Killing Wind review

My review of Tan Hecheng’s The Killing Wind has been published, in Italian and English, on the website of the Montepulciano Library. Find the English version below.

Silvia Calamandrei <silvia.calamandrei@skynet.be>

Source: http://www.biblioteca.montepulciano.si.it/node/844
Tan Hecheng, The Killing Wind
Reviewed by Silvia Calamandrei

This detailed and lively account plunges us into the tragic atmosphere of wild conflicts taking place in recent Chinese history and helps us better understanding why it is still so difficult to discuss a past whose scars are alive in the present. Let me underline that this is a Chinese firsthand account, based on documents collected at the local level, a signal that research effort has started and cannot be stopped indefinitely. Continue reading

Gender and Subjectivities review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Yi Zheng’s review of Gender and Subjectivities in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), by Ping Zhu. The review appears below, but is best read online at:

http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/yizheng/

My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Gender and Subjectivities in Early
Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature and Culture

By Ping Zhu


Reviewed by Yi Zheng
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2017)


Ping Zhu, Gender and Subjectivities in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature and Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2015. ix + 194 pp. ISBN: 978-1-137-51473-8 (Hardcover, US$90.00)

Zhu’s monograph aims at a cultural history of the “feminine at large” in early twentieth-century China. Zhu’s “early twentieth-century” encompasses “the extended period of the New Culture/May Fourth movement (including their prelude, development, and aftermath)” (3). Zhu also considers pre- and post-New Culture/May Fourth texts from Late Qing reformist writings and revolutionary literature of the 1930s. This way of charting the diverse and rich cultural and intellectual developments in the first three decades of twentieth-century China reasserts the centrality of the New Culture movement in the formation of a modern Chinese subjectivity. Zhu pinpoints the amorphous “feminine at large,” which she identifies as part of the movement’s foundation, showing how it acted as a touchstone for many derivations and alternatives (as represented by the writers discussed in the book).The changing concept and deployment of the feminine has led to fruitful developments in scholarly deliberations on twentieth-century Chinese culture and history. Not only are there foundational feminist texts that take the transformation of the Chinese woman and the feminine as the foci of their enquiry into Chinese modernity,[1] many studies of modern Chinese literature argue for the centrality of the “woman question” and women writers in twentieth-century writing, delineating a female or feminist tradition.[2] The concepts of gender and subjectivity can be productively combined to further our understanding of the formation of modern Chinese culture, as evidenced in Ping Zhu’s Gender and Subjectivities in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature and Culture. Continue reading

Signifying the Local review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Lauren Gorfinkel’s review of Signifying the Local: Media Productions Rendered in Local Languages in Mainland China in the New Millennium (Brill 2013), by Jin Liu. The review appears below, but is best read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/gorfinkel/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Signifying the Local: Media Productions Rendered in
Local Languages in Mainland China in the New Millennium

By Jin Liu


Reviewed by Lauren Gorfinkel
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2017)


Jin Liu. Signifying the Local: Media Productions Rendered in Local Languages in Mainland China in the New Millennium. Leiden: Brill, 2013. 318 pp. ISSN: 1570-1344; ISBN: 978-90-04-25901-0 (hardback); ISBN: 978-90-04-25902-7 (e-book)

Signifying the Local offers a close examination of a wide range of cultural products from Mainland Chinese television, film, music, and literature that draw on local languages and dialects (方言). Drawing on theories from sociolinguistics, cultural studies, media studies, and literary analysis, the book illuminates the complexities of China’s cultural-linguistic landscape, one that is simultaneously infused with the central, official, standard, normalized Putonghua Mandarin, and a rich variety of peripheral, marginal, and local voices in both official and unofficial spaces.

The book is composed of a theoretical introduction, followed by a historical review of local languages in China (chapter 1), as well as three chapters that focus on television (chapters 2, 4 and 5), three on film (chapters 3, 7 and 8), one on Internet music (chapter 6), and one on contemporary literature (chapter 9). Continue reading

Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Hui Faye Xiao’s review of Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse in Contemporary China (Routledge, 2014), by Shuyu Kong. The review appears below, but is best read online at:

http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/xiao/

My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Popular Media, Social Emotion and
Public Discourse in Contemporary China

By Shuyu Kong


Reviewed by Hui Faye Xiao
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2017)


Shuyu Kong, Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse in Contemporary China. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. 154 pp. ISBN: 978-0-415-71989-6 (Hardback: $140)

Shuyu Kong, Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse in Contemporary China. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. 154 pp. ISBN: 978-0-415-71989-6 (Hardback: $140)

Continuing the scholarly investigation of China’s radical socio-cultural transformation in her Consuming Literature: Best Sellers and the Commercialization of Literary Products in Contemporary China (2004), Shuyu Kong’s latest book, Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse in Contemporary China, examines the burgeoning cultural public sphere shaped by the widespread use of new media, “including the internet, mobile communications and other social media” (3). In the past few decades, a fast-growing body of scholarship has paid attention to the escalating coverage of new media in contemporary Chinese society and speculated upon its socio-political ramifications. Jürgen Habermas’s ideas of public sphere and civil society have been frequently cited by intellectuals and scholars concerned with China’s democratization. However, Kong’s use of public sphere stretches Habermas’s definition, which tends to emphasize the participatory politics of free-willed rational bourgeois individuals. Rather, this book revolves around a new conception of popular media as a public site of cultural production and participatory consumption as well as a transmitter of social emotions and affects. This innovative approach is much needed for a better understanding of today’s Chinese society, which is experiencing yet another change in the “structure of feeling” as a result of an ongoing post-revolutionary “cultural revolution.” Continue reading

The Killing Wind review

Source: NY Review of Books (Jan. 19, 2017)
When the Chinese Were Unspeakable
By Ian Johnson

=================================
The Killing Wind: A Chinese County’s Descent into Madness During the Cultural Revolution
by Tan Hecheng, translated from the Chinese by Stacy Mosher and Guo Jian
Oxford University Press, 505 pp., $34.95

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Tan Hecheng at a tombstone put up by Zhou Qun for her husband and three children, who were among the thousands of people killed during the Cultural Revolution in Dao County, southern China, November 2016; photograph by Sim Chi Yin

Tan Hecheng at a tombstone put up by Zhou Qun for her husband and three children, who were among the thousands of people killed during the Cultural Revolution in Dao County, southern China, November 2016; photograph by Sim Chi Yin

The Xiao River rushes deep and clear out of the mountains of southern China into a narrow plain of paddies and villages. At first little more than an angry stream, it begins to meander and grow as the basin’s sixty-three other creeks and brooks flow into it. By the time it reenters the mountains fifty miles to the north, it is big and powerful enough to carry barges and ferries. Continue reading