Interview with Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

Source: Writing Chinese (8/1/17)
Interview: Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

Our Bookclub Author of the Month for August 2017 is Tammy Ho Lai-Ming. Find out more about Tammy and work, and read three of her poems on our Bookclub page here. We’re delighted that Tammy has taken the time out of her extremely busy schedule to answer some of our questions!

Tell us more about your writing – have you always written in English? 

When I was at school, I wrote poems and stories in Chinese. They had hardly any literary merit; they were just silly little nothings, scribblings. I did write a novella, following the style of Xi Xi’s A Girl Like Me, in Chinese. But the hand-written manuscript—the only copy I had—is long lost. I vaguely remember the story, which is about a bored Hong Kong girl working in a stifling office and her fanciful dreams, which are in fact quite modest. Continue reading

Online literature franchises

Source: Global Times (7/13/17)
Top 10 online literature writers in China have created franchises worth a staggering 1 billion yuan ($150 million) each
Hurun’s list of most valuable literature IPs reflects growing power of online works
By Huang Tingting

Rupert Hoogewerf (left) and Wang Yuren pose for a picture at a press conference for the Mopian Hurun Most Valuable Creative Works IP 2017 list in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Courtesy of the Hurun Report

The top 10 online literature writers in China have created franchises worth a staggering 1 billion yuan ($150 million) each, Rupert Hoogewerf – better known in China as Hu Run, the British founder and chief researcher of the Hurun Report – announced at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the Hurun Research Institute and domestic IP management agency Mopian released the Mopian Hurun Most Valuable Creative Works IP 2017 list, which lists the top 100 most valuable literature IPs in China after 1998. Continue reading

Fake lives in Beijing (1)

Source: Sup China (7/28/17)
Author of hit ‘faking a life in Beijing’ article apologizes, sorta
By Jiayun Feng

As we noted yesterday, the caustic essay “In Beijing, 20 million people are faking a life,” which became a controversial and viral sensation in China in the last few days, also provoked an unusual reprimand from several state media organizations, including the People’s Daily and Xinhua. Now the essay’s author, Zhang Wumao 张五毛, has apologized for not being discreet enough when writing the essay, and begged media “not to magnify my mistake into a matter of principle” in an interview (in Chinese) with The Economic Observer.

“This is an article with many problems. In fact, I didn’t intend to express anything. I was just being contrarian and trying to amuse readers,” Zhang said. “I didn’t realize that I was wrongly contrarian and trying to amuse wrongly. I don’t want to cause more troubles and make anyone upset about it.” Continue reading

Fake lives in Beijing

Source: Sup China (7/28/17)
Xinhua: No fake lives in Beijing
By Jiayun Feng

On July 23, Chinese blogger and novelist Zhang Wumao 张五毛 published an essay titled “In Beijing, 20 million people are faking a life” on WeChat (see a translation including the original Chinese). The article went viral, generating more than 5 million views and nearly 20,000 comments overnight. Although the essay has been scrubbed from the Chinese internet, it has triggered a heated debate and sparked a series of countering articles, including some by state media such as the People’s Daily and Xinhua.

Zhang’s essay is caustically funny. He writes about the alienation of people living in a Beijing that is too big, too polluted and congested, and too expensive. At least for migrants: Zhang writes about rich old Beijingers who have “five apartments under their butts,” while the people from the provinces who do most of the work in the city struggle to afford even a tiny house in the outer suburbs. He also writes about the ongoing teardown of small shops and restaurants — mostly owned by non-locals — and how the years of destruction mean that even old Beijingers don’t really have a home to go back to. The essay ends: Continue reading

Remember Little, Forget More

Source: China Daily (7/27/17)
Woman writer from Xinjiang features her life in new book
By Li Hongrui

Woman writer from Xinjiang features her life in new book

Remember Little, Forget More. [Photo/]

Li Juan, a Xinjiang-based writer born in the 1970s, has won wide acclaim for her prose featuring Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region since she wrote for a newspaper.

Having published eight books, she saw her latest work published recently after five years of break.

The new book, Remember Little, Forget More (Ji Yi Wang San Er), is a collection of prose about her life, especially her childhood in Xinjiang.

Although born in a small town in Xinjiang, Li is the child of immigrants from Sichuan province. She also once stayed in Sichuan for some time when she was young. Continue reading

Why Chinese sci-fi fans love homegrown heroes

Source: Sixth Tone (7/24/17)
Why Chinese Sci-Fi Fans Love Homegrown Heroes
Film and literary protagonists wield ancient philosophy to ward off alien invasions.
By Wu Shuang, a screenwriter and science fiction author

Two adjacent manhole covers are painted with the symbol of yin and yang (left) and the shield design of Captain America (right) at Beijing Normal University in Beijing, June 16, 2017. VCG.

The growth of the Chinese film market in recent years has brought an increasing number of foreign sci-fi films to the country’s cinema screens. People might assume that domestic films can’t hold a candle to the polished products put out by Hollywood’s slick sci-fi screenwriters, yet actual box office figures beg to differ.

In 2016, “The Mermaid” became China’s highest-grossing sci-fi fantasy movie of all time, raking in 2.2 billion yuan ($333 million). “Monster Hunt,” meanwhile, led the charge for fantasy films at a whopping 2.43 billion yuan ($360 million). Both are domestic movies. The former posits the existence of an isolated population of mermaids in a future war with humans, who wish to destroy the mermaids’ habitat as part of a sea reclamation project. The latter tells the story of two hunters in a world populated with people-eating monsters. Continue reading

Poem for Liu Xiaobo (2)

I admire the translation of the poem by 小众童网 on CDT. It was probably harder to translate than the one by Meng Lang, although I don’t think Meng Lang is easy to translate. This period since Liu Xiaobo’s terminal illness was announced has brought much attention to poetry by and for Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.

Two days ago I discovered a poem on Weibo. I think it wasn’t censored, probably because it is circulated as a picture. My translation is below. Click on the picture on my blog

and click through to Weibo. Or see the author’s blog:

I have also tried to translate (to German) a poem by Liu Xiaobo from 1997. An excerpt was circulated on Twitter when Liu Xiaobo was still alive. You can see the original interspersed with my efforts here:
Two sections were published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Neue Zürcher Zeitung. They are very poignant. There is one section that I found too hard to translate. I googled the two most difficult lines, and found an entry titled “Who writes better poetry, Liu Xiaobo or a junior high school student?” Continue reading

Wu He’s Remains of Life

Once again we have a case of a reviewer failing to mention the name of the translator, or even seeing the book under review as a translation. By the way, the translator is Michael Berry.–Kirk

Source: SCMP (6/7/17)
James Joyce-like novel about Japanese genocide of Taiwan tribes is a tough read, but worth the effort
Award-winning Remains of Life, written without chapters or paragraphs, is a technically daunting account of a terrible event from Taiwan’s occupation that has taken 18 years to publish in English, and it’s not hard to see why
Mike Cormack

The cover of Wu He’s Remains Of Life. Columbia University Press

It’s taken 18 years for Wu He’s critically lauded Remains of Life to appear in English translation, and a glance at the text readily explains this delay.

This is an avowedly experi­mental novel that revolves around one dreadful event. On October 27, 1930, at a sports meeting at Musha Elementary School, on an aboriginal reservation in the mountains of Taiwan, a bloody uprising took place against the Japanese. By noon, the headhunting ritual had left 134 of the occupiers decapitated. The colonial power’s response was to mobilise a 3,000-strong militia, roll out the heavy artillery, put planes in the air and deploy poisonous gas in a ferocious act of genocide that saw the near extermination of the Seediq tribes.

The Musha Incident, as it came to be known, had been forgotten by many Taiwanese, but the book led to a resurgence in interest, and a new evaluation of its significance. Continue reading

Reading Chinese Book Review Network

The Reading Chinese Book Review Network

Interested in Chinese fiction in translation? Want to read and review recent works by contemporary Chinese authors and to see your reviews published online? Then apply to join the Reading Chinese Book Review Network!

We are looking for enthusiastic volunteer reviewers to join our book review network, launched in collaboration with Balestier Press and Penguin China. Reviewers who join the network will be sent a copy of selected titles and asked to submit a review within a specified timeframe. Their review will then be published on our website, creating a valuable resource for teachers and students of Chinese, as well as for members of the public looking for a good place to start with Chinese fiction in translation. Continue reading

Films and literature on formal education (1,2)

I think the novel Triple Door (三重门) by Han Han may be a good choice, though it hasn’t been translated into English.

Laura Lettere <>


I can suggest ‘Village Middle School’ a documentary by Tammy Cheung:

It is a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the life in this school.

Sophia Woodman <>

Poem for Liu Xiaobo

Posted by: Magnus Fiskesjö (
Source: China Digital Times (7/10/17)
Meng Lang: Untitled Poem for Liu Xiaobo

Jailed since 2009, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was moved from prison last month to undergo hospital treatment for advanced liver cancer. Liu and those closest to him are hoping that he will be granted permission to leave China for treatment abroad, but conflicting reports from authorities and visiting physicians indicate little chance that such allowance will be granted. As his supporters continue to issue calls for his release, poet Meng Lang today posted an untitled poem honoring the terminally ill activist, translated below:

by Meng Lang

Broadcast the death of a nation
Broadcast the death of a country
Hallelujah, only he is coming back to life.

Who stopped his resurrection
This nation has no murderer
This country has no bloodstain.

They did some sleight of hand
A doctor’s sleight of hand, benevolent
and full of this nation, this country.

Can you lose some weight? A little more?
Like him, his bones the scaffolding of
the museum of humanity.

Broadcast the death of a nation
Broadcast the death of a country
Hallelujah, only he is coming back to life.

July 11, 2017, 12:58 a.m.

Poem translated by Anne Henochowicz.

[Chinese: ] Continue reading

China Reading ipo

Source: Sup China (7/6/17)
More money for … online literature
By Jeremy Goldkorn

Tencent — the internet behemoth behind WeChat — runs a digital literature publishing company called China Reading, which has begun filing for an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong, proposing to raise $600 to $800 million. It would be the first listing of a company dedicated to internet literature.

China Reading was originally a company owned by Chinese games giant Shanda. According to TechNode, “China Reading logged $390 million (RMB 2.6 billion) in operating income last year, 77 percent of which came from its reading-related businesses.” The company had around 175 million users at the end of 2016.

The Cultural Revolution on Trial review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Man He’s review of The Cultural Revolution on Trial: Mao and the Gang of Four (Cambridge UP, 2016), by Alexander C. Cook. The review appears below, but is best read at its online home:

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

Kirk A. Denton, editor

The Cultural Revolution on Trial:
Mao and the Gang of Four

By Alexander C. Cook

Reviewed by Man He
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2017)

Alexander C. Cook, The Cultural Revolution on Trial: Mao and the Gang of Four. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. xv, 277 pp. ISBN: 9780521135290 (hardback).

“What did it mean for the Chinese to use a legal trial to address the injustices of the Cultural Revolution?” (10). Alexander C. Cook raises and answers this key question in The Cultural Revolution on Trail: Mao and the Gang of Four. Conducted over the winter of 1980-81, the Gang of Four trial was the defining event of China’s post-Mao transition in legal, political, and cultural senses. Not only did it signal a return to law and order after the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, it affirmed the continuing rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its authority to render a verdict on China’s recent past. Despite the trial’s importance, there has been little English scholarship on the subject, due to the inaccessibility of archival materials and, paradoxically, the widespread availability of “partially redacted courtroom transcripts” (4). The former is an expected bureaucratic hurdle, but the latter is also problematic because the “linguistic engineering” (9) of such documents is apt to make outsiders complain about the empty jargon, leaving only insiders alert to “the heavy freight of meanings that words . . . could convey” (10). Not content to allow these factors to let the trial languish in an “analytical black hole” (7), Cook has devised a compelling means to tackle the issue. Alternating between chapters that focus on legal documents and court proceedings (dealing with the indictment, testimony, and verdict, respectively) and chapters on relevant literary works (in the genres of reportage, psychological realism, and personal memoir), Cook succinctly unveils the legal, political, and cultural meanings hidden in socialist legal and literary narratives, as well as the broader political and social implications of the trial. In other words, by reading legal documents in a literary way and literary narratives politically; Cook demonstrates to outsiders and insiders alike that there is something intriguing and far-reaching about this apparent “show trial.” Continue reading