Lu Yang on growing up and writing in China

Source: The New Yorker (June 4, 2018)
Lu Yang on Growing Up and Writing in China
By Deborah Treisman

Photograph Courtesy Lu Yang

Is Silver Tiger,” your story in this week’s issue, your first publication in English? Can you tell me about your writing and publishing history in China?

That’s right. “Silver Tiger” was one of my earliest short stories and is now the first to be translated into English. In the early nineties, I began publishing fiction in some of China’s most important literary journals, including the stories “The Small Hours of 1993,” in 1993, my “String and Song” series, from 1992 to 1993, and my “Guttering Flame” series, around 1995. During that period, I also published collections of short stories, novellas, and poetry. I wrote a novel, which languished at a Beijing publishing house for nine years before finally being published by a Shanghai house, in 2007. After that, I continued to write poetry, but did not publish. In 2017, I published a Chinese translation of Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” Continue reading

Seminars in modern Chinese fiction

Two Seminars in Modern Chinese Fiction at the Lau China Centre, Kings College London
Thursday 7th and Thursday 14th June, 10-12, at Bush House, KCL

The first seminar will consider ‘I Love Dollars’ by Zhu Wen, originally published in Chinese in the late 1990s, and the second ‘The Story of Ah Q ‘ by Lu Xun, first published in Chinese in 1921.

The seminars are presented by journalist and writer Poppy Sebag-Montefiore, will be discussions on short stories from bestselling classics from either end of the 20th century.

Through close reading, the sessions will explore the ways the texts deal with sexuality, patriarchy, filial piety, women, masculinity, the individual, romantic love, society and the state. They will also consider the tone of the writing, the use of humour, parody and the absurd, and consider the ways in which they experiment with the story form. Continue reading

Growing interest in Jia Pingwa’s works

Source: China Daily (5/25/18)
Growing interest in Jia’s works
By Mei Jia

Carlos Rojas, translator of Jia Pingwa’s The Lantern Bearer. [Photo provided to China Daily]

There has been a surge in the number of English translations of Jia Pingwa’s works in recent years, says Carlos Rojas, a professor of Chinese cultural studies at Duke University and the translator of Jia’s The Lantern Bearer.

“Jia was the least-translated (into English) contemporary literary master. For years, there was only Turbulence: A Novel, translated by Howard Goldblatt and released in 2003,” says Rojas.

He says he is glad to see that more of Jia’s works have been translated or are in the process of being translated. Continue reading

Dance adaptation of Lin Yutang war novel

Source: China Daily (5/26/18)
War novel takes new life as dance production
By Chen Nan

The dance production A Leaf in the Storm will be presented by the Beijing Dance Theater at Beijing’s Tianqiao Performing Arts Center from June 6 to 10.

Based on a war novel of the same title by Lin Yutang, the production marks the first time the story is retold in dance. The novel, which was published by New York publishing firm John Day Book Company in 1941, is about the lives of several characters in Beijing during the Japanese invasion. Continue reading

Mo Yan ready to write again

Source: SCMP (5/5/18)
I needed to step out of the spotlight’: why Chinese Nobel Literature Prize winner Mo Yan is ready to start writing again
After five hectic years since winning the award, the renowned novelist explains why he has decided to scale down his public profile and return to his desk
By Sidney Leng

Mo Yan has spent much of the past five years in the public gaze, but is now refocusing on his writing. Photo: Jonathan Wong

After years of juggling speaking engagements and public commitments since winning the Nobel Literature Prize, Chinese writer Mo Yan now says it is time to get back to his writing desk.

Speaking in Hong Kong the 63-year-old novelist explained that he had gradually stepped away from the Nobel spotlight and learned to largely ignore the public’s high expectations, comparing himself to an athlete who needs to unwind to perform well in a major competition.

“Some athletes perform well in regular races, but they can’t compete at their best during international sport events, such as the Olympics,” he said. Continue reading

Women’s favorite Internet works

Source:Global Times (4/23/18)
Women’s favorite Internet works

Gu Jianyu Photo: Courtesy of China Literature

What books she likes to read, what TV dramas she likes to watch, what movies she likes to talk about on her WeChat Moments page or on Sina Weibo… Women are not just initiators of hot social topics, but also the driving force behind a plethora of IPs ranging from TV series and movies to books. Their hobbies also have a major impact on what IPs are adapted to other mediums.

Considering this massive influence, China Literature, one of the biggest Internet publishers in China, released a list of the 10 most popular Internet literature works among women in China at an IP salon on Wednesday. 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: 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: 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

The Making and Remaking of China’s “Red Classics” review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Yizhong Gu’s review of The Making and Remaking of China’s “Red Classics”: Politics, Aesthetics and Mass Culture (Hong Kong University Press, 2018), edited by Rosemary Roberts and Li Li. The review appears below, but is best read online at: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC  book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy, Kirk Denton, editor

The Making and Remaking of China’s “Red Classics”: 
Politics, Aesthetics and Mass Culture

Edited by Rosemary Roberts and Li Li

Reviewed by Yizhong Gu
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May, 2018)

Rosemary Roberts and Li Li, eds. The Making and Remaking of China’s “Red Classics”: Politics, Aesthetics and Mass Culture. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2018. v-xix + 199 pp. ISBN: 9789888390892. (Hardcover: $60.00 / £47.00).

The Making and Remaking of China’s “Red Classics” not only reveals the mechanisms and operations of Maoist ideology within a variety of cultural products, it also teases out how aspects of the Maoist legacy have been inherited, twisted, and channeled to serve sociopolitical purposes in the reform era (chapters are broadly divided into those addressing issues from the “Maoist Era” and those from the “Reform Era”). In the process, this volume both instantiates a rigorous methodology for the scholarly analysis of “Red Classics” and demonstrates how socialist works of art and aesthetics continue to inform PRC cultural production in the present.

Since the origin of the term “red classics” is unclear, the volume wisely circumvents the question that could lead to a deadlock: which literary and art works can be counted as “red classics”?[1] Instead, it adopts “the broadest understanding of the scope of the ‘red classics’” (ix), investigating not just literature but “films, TV series, picture books, cartoons, and traditional-style paintings” (xi). The editors address this array of media according to three key characteristics: “their sociopolitical and ideological import, their aesthetic significance, and their function as a mass cultural phenomenon” (xi). The volume engages in dialogue between English- and Chinese-language scholarship (two essays are translated from Chinese), a quite welcomed effort since Chinese scholarship on socialist literature is relatively limited for English readers. Although essays vary greatly in subject matter and discipline, the volume still reads like an organic whole (the volume emerged from a 2015 University of Queensland symposium). The authors cross-reference one another’s essays and trace some key theoretical features shared among “red classics” that will be of interest and inspiration both to China studies scholars and general readers who are interested in modern Chinese literature, politics, and culture. Continue reading

The Moving Target

The Moving Target: A Workshop on Translation and Chinese Poetry
June 1–2, 2018 | Leiden University
Convened by Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein

From the Book of Songs to 21st-century migrant worker poetry and from Yu Xiuhua in English to Paul Celan in Chinese:

Papers by Joseph Allen, Lucas Klein, Nicholas Morrow Williams, Zhou Min, Tara Coleman, Chris Song, Christopher Lupke, Jenn Marie Nunes, Meng Liansu, Joanna Krenz, Jacob Edmond, Eleanor Goodman, Nick Admussen, Rui Kunze, Maghiel van Crevel, and Wilt Idema. Full program:

Posted by: Maghiel van Crevel <>

Writers arrested for slurs about dairy company

Source: Sup China (5/7/18)
A murky tale from Inner Mongolia — writers arrested for ‘slurs’ about dairy company
Jeremy Goldkorn

The South China Morning Post reports on two Chinese writers who were detained and accused of “defamation and picking quarrels and provoking troubles” (诽谤罪、“寻衅滋事罪 fěibàng zuì, “xúnxìn zīshì zuì) for online “slurs” about the giant dairy company Yili.

  • The two writers, Zou Guangxiang 邹光祥 and Liu Chengkun 刘成, were arrested at their homes in Beijing by police officers from Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia,according to Xinhua (in Chinese). Yili’s headquarters are in Hohhot.
  • Liu, a former journalist, is accused of posting to WeChat a “fictional” story about a company very similar to Yili. The “fictional” company is run by a chairman similar to Yili boss Pan Gang 潘刚. Based on Liu’s story, Zou posted to his WeChat public account that Pan had been detained recently when he returned to China from the U.S.
  • Liu’s and Zou’s posts went viral on March 26, and on the same day, Yili’s share price fell by more than 3.5 percent. Yili’s response has been to state that Pan had been in the U.S. receiving medical treatment, but that he continued to participate in regular decision making and important meetings while abroad.
  • “Starting and spreading rumors: fame and profit by making a WeChat public account go viral” is how Xinhua characterizes Liu’s and Zou’s work (造谣传谣:让公众号“火”起来以博取名利 zàoyáo chuán yáo: ràng gōngzhòng hào huǒ qǐlái yǐ bóqǔ mínglì).
  • The arrests “came after an official inquiry into the case, which also triggered a national outcry over Beijing’s ever-tightening grip on people’s right to free expression online,” according to the SCMP.

Can literary imports change Chinese perceptions of Africa

Source: Sixth Tone (5/7/18)
Can Literary Imports Change Chinese Perceptions of Africa?
The continent’s best-loved texts are increasingly being translated into Chinese, but publishers are skeptical of their wider influence.
By Bruce Humes

A man reads a book at a bookstore in Beijing, May 6, 2018. Bo Xiang/IC

Western media frequently depicts China as a neocolonial power that seeks to import Africa’s natural resources at fire-sale prices, with precious little interest in the continent’s people or culture. At the same time, certain Chinese media outlets have recently come under the spotlight for their representations of Africans, while many black people in China complain that interactions are rife with racist stereotypes.

While economic considerations drive much cross-cultural exchange between China and Africa, the latter’s cultural exports have the potential to profoundly shape the ways Chinese people view the continent. The translation of African literature, for example, may give Chinese readers valuable insights into the sheer diversity of human culture and experience across the region. Continue reading

Interview with Robert Hegel

Source: Washington University, Arts and Sciences (5/1/18)
Never Done Learning: Robert Hegel on a career in Chinese literature
By John Moore

Robert Hegel joined Washington University in 1975

Robert E. Hegel, professor of Chinese language and literature and the Liselotte Dieckmann Professor of Comparative Literature, retires at the end of this semester. We sat down with Hegel to talk about his love of Chinese literature, watching students become colleagues, and the joy of sharing the stories you love with students.

How did you first become interested in Chinese literature?

By accident and out of pure ignorance. My older brother was in the Air Force during the Korean War; we grew up on a dairy farm. He was stationed in Japan, and it happened that one of the cleaning staff was the son of a dairy farmer near Tokyo. So my brother visited them and got to know the family. He was really impressed by how well they cared for their cattle. So that got me excited about learning about Japan. Later, when I went off to college, it was during the Sputnik era and I was determined to become a rocket scientist. In my first year I took calculus, but I never understood a bit of it. I could do the manipulation of numbers and symbols only if it were a problem like the ones explained in class. After getting the lowest B- in a class of 250, I knew that I might well fail the next course in the sequence. I was confronted with what to do next. I had enjoyed studying Spanish and German in high school, so I thought I’d try another language—maybe Japanese. Japanese wasn’t offered, but Chinese was. I found out very quickly that they are unrelated languages and distinctly different cultures. However, at that time US citizens could apply for National Defense Foreign Language Fellowships for four years of graduate study in critical languages. That program opened a door for me. Continue reading

Interview with Carolyn Brown

The following is an interview with Dr. Carolyn T. Brown, author of the new book Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung, which is part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, headed by Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Why did you decide to write Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung?
Carolyn T. Brown:
 The seeds of this book lie in the mid-1980s when I was an academic in Chinese literature. My career took a turn away from academia, and the book sat in the drawer for several decades. But the nascent book wouldn’t allow me to forget it. So after I retired, I refurbished my reading knowledge of Chinese and finished the book. Somewhere during those decades I encountered the work of Carl Jung and over time, the resonances between the two emerged naturally for me. In the end, there were two questions that drove Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung: why were Lu Xun’s stories so personally compelling to me and what did he mean by wanting to cure the spirits of the Chinese people. I found these questions so compelling that in the end it was easier to write the book than to not write it. Continue reading

October Dedicationss

Announcing October Dedications, the selected poems of Mang Ke 芒克, edited and translated by Lucas Klein, with further translations by Huang Yibing and Jonathan Stalling—part of the Jintian series jointly published by Zephyr and The Chinese University Press.

Mang Ke (b. 1950, penname of Jiang Shiwei 姜世伟) began writing poetry as a sent-down youth in Baiyangdian, rural Hebei province, during the Cultural Revolution. As co-founder of the PRC’s first unofficial literary journal Jintian (Today) in 1978, he is one of the progenitors of what would later be called Obscure or “Misty” Poetry, with spare, impressionistic poems that were among the first to break free of the imposed discourse of Maoism towards an image-based literary style that left space for both expression and interpretation. He currently makes his living as an abstract painter and lives in Songzhuang, an artists’ colony on the outskirts of Beijing. Continue reading