The Routledge Companion to Yan Lianke

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Martina Codeluppi’s review of The Routledge Companion to Yan Lianke, edited by Riccardo Moratto and Howard Yuen Fung Choy. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/codeluppi/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

The Routledge Companion to Yan Lianke

Edited by Riccardo Moratto and Howard Yuen Fung Choy


Reviewed by Martina Codeluppi

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright November, 2022)


Riccardo Moratto & Howard Yuen Fung Choy, eds., The Routledge Companion to Yan Lianke. London and New York: Routledge, 2022, ISBN: 9780367700980 (cloth).

Putting together a comprehensive volume about one of the most interesting, prolific, and internationally recognized voices in contemporary Chinese literature is not an easy task. This work, edited by Riccardo Moratto and Howard Yuen Fung Choy, makes the most of its 519 pages to retrace Yan Lianke’s 阎连科 literary production from its origins to the present day, providing a generous number of essays on the author’s poetics in theory and in practice, as well as on the challenges of its translation and reception.

The ambition of the project is self-evident, and it takes no more than one glance at the table of contents to realize it: the volume comprises 32 chapters divided into four parts, each of them addressing two specific aspects of Yan Lianke’s literary production. The table of contents is followed by a list of illustrations and then that of the contributors, which shows a considerable degree of diversity in terms of academic position and nationality, thereby ensuring a multifaceted perspective. The volume has multiple levels of introduction. The foreword by Carlos Rojas provides a retrospective view on Yan Lianke’s main works, focusing on the key elements that characterize his literary production. In particular, Rojas employs the metaphor of darkness to bring forward the relationship between Yan’s works and censorship, leading the way for the following essays, just like the flashlight Yan himself talked about on receiving the Franz Kafka Prize in 2014 (xxii). Subsequently, Yan Lianke’s preface—translated by Riccardo Moratto—introduces the collection of essays by quoting from both Western classics, such as The IliadThe MetamorphosisThe Divine Comedy and The Bible, and Chinese ones to show that literature emerged out of human experience. Yan then goes on to analyze how the relationship among writers, critics, and readers has changed across the centuries, and raises the question of where the truth and the “story field” of twenty-first century literature are to be found (xxxv). In doing so, he shows an aspiration to move beyond realism and seek the truth by transcending real-life experiences. Following Yan’s essay, the editorial preface by Riccardo Moratto and Howard Yuen Fung Choy provides some background information concerning the birth of the project and a description of it parts. Finally, two sections of acknowledgments—one by Yan and one by the editors—brings the introductory section to a close. Because of the richness of the volume and the variety of its contributions, I address each of its parts separately and provide a brief overview of each chapter. Continue reading

‘China after Mao’ review

Source: The China Project (10/21/22)
‘China After Mao’: Frank Dikötter plays the old hits in new book
Frank Dikötter has made a career out of castigating the Chinese Communist Party and its leadership, starting from Mao Zedong. He remains unrelenting in his new book, “China After Mao,” which covers the period of China’s recovery and rise.
By Mike Cormack

Illustration for The China Project by Derek Zheng

The People’s Trilogy, a set of three books by Dutch historian Frank Dikötter — on the 1949 revolution and initial years of Communist rule, the Great Famine of 1959-1962, and the Cultural Revolution — achieved considerable commercial success. There is no doubt that the books are great works of archival exploration and explication, shining a light on some of the darkest periods in Chinese history; at several points during Mao’s Great Famine, I literally had to put the book down, overwhelmed by the human suffering he documents. They are essential reading for anyone interested in understanding contemporary Chinese society, and help you understand the deep scars and fierce passions which make China what it is today.

Yet historians were rather more skeptical. There have long been suggestions that Dikötter’s scholarly rigor is lacking, and that his books have a discernible political agenda. So it is that his latest volume — China After Mao — this time concerning more recent Chinese history from Huá Guófēng 华国锋 to the ascent of Xí Jìnpíng 习近平, has been met with mixed reactions.

Nonetheless, I was excited by this new Dikötter work. What would he say about China’s economic take-off, and what dark secrets might he have uncovered? Continue reading

‘Cocoon’ review

Source: Wall Street Journal (10/21/22)
‘Cocoon’ Review: Scars of the Cultural Revolution
In a novel by the young writer Zhang Yueran, two old friends confront the legacy of China’s tumultuous past.
By Boyd Tonkin

Chinese Red Guards parade victims through the streets of Beijing, ca. 1966. PHOTO: EVERETT COLLECTION/ALAMY

On a visit to Beijing to confront the father who has quit their home, Li Jiaqi picks up an anthology of Chinese fiction he edited decades before. Jiaqi, one of the two narrators of Zhang Yueran’s novel “Cocoon,” finds a downbeat story there about a divorcee. Repelled, she promises herself she’ll never read anything else by the author. Given the tale’s title—“Love in a Fallen City”—Ms. Zhang is surely having a sly joke at her heroine’s expense. For that landmark novella was written by the great Eileen Chang (born Zhang Ying in 1920), a taboo-busting titan of modern Chinese fiction and one of Ms. Zhang’s most obvious forerunners. Not for the first or last time in this book, Jiaqi struggles to learn from the past.

The trauma and tragedy of China’s recent history obsesses the 1980s-born protagonists of “Cocoon.” Fixation is one thing, as they painfully discover; true understanding quite another. Jiaqi’s boyfriend scolds her: “You don’t know why you exist, so you hide in your father’s era. You feed on that generation’s scars. Like a vulture.” The alternating narratives of Jiaqi and her childhood friend, Cheng Gong, track these two mid-30s drifters as they disinter the shame and sorrow of their families’ past. Both feel they belong to “a species of beast that hunted secrets to survive.”

Chinese writers of Zhang Yueran’s vintage (she was born in Jinan in 1982) started to publish at a time when the dark allure of a bloodstained history vied with the spangled glamour of the present. The epic suffering inflicted by Mao’s Cultural Revolution lay open to artistic scrutiny. Official culture began to tolerate the probing of those wounds and the genre of so-called “scar literature” emerged. Continue reading

Literary Information in China review

MCLC Resource center is pleased to announce publication of Victor Mair’s review of Literary Information in China: A History, edited by Jack W. Chen, Anatoly Detwyler, Xiao Liu, Christopher M. B. Nugent, and Bruce Rusk. A teaser (it’s a long review) appears below. To read the review in its entirety, go to its online home here: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/victor-mair/. My thanks to literary studies book review editor, Nicholas Kaldis, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

Literary Information in China:
A History

Edited by Jack W. Chen, Anatoly Detwyler, Xiao Liu, Christopher M. B. Nugent, and Bruce Rusk


Reviewed by Victor H. Mair

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September, 2022)


Jack W. Chen, Anatoly Detwyler, Xiao Liu, Christopher M. B. Nugent, and Bruce Rusk, eds. Literary Information in China: A History. New York: Columbia University Press, 2021, xxxii + 672 pp. ISBN: 9780231195522 (Hardcover); 9780231551373 (E-book).

This is a hefty volume, with a total of 670 pages of closely spaced, compact, but still readily legible, type. It explicitly styles itself a “history,” as in the subtitle. Yet, at the head of the “Introduction,” the editors state that it is “For a History of Literary Information in China” (p. xxi, emphasis added), which might be interpreted as signifying something like “materials for, or toward, a history of literary information in China.” In other words, one could think of this volume, which I will henceforth refer to as LIIC, as constituting a collection of fundamental data and ideas that could be used in the making of a history of literary information in China. But that begs the question, because we still don’t know precisely what “literary information” is with reference to the Chinese tradition (history). The aim of this review is to extrapolate from its many chapters just what sort of history of literary information LIIC is pointing toward.

***

In her “Foreword,” Ann Blair has done a worthy job of succinctly tracing the growth of information sciences since the mid-twentieth century, but one still wants to know what literary information is. One thing is certain: LIIC is not a history of literature in China. If that is what the reader is looking for, they have come to the wrong place. Indeed, in LIIC one will find little reference to literary works and authors themselves. Instead, what one will find in abundance are data concerning the epiphenomena of written texts—their constituent symbols (what the authors mostly refer to consistently as “graphs” (wen 文 and zi 字), the nature and form of written texts, the ordering, storage, and retrieval of words, books, articles, and so forth. To be sure, we now have in English and other languages a plentiful assortment of histories of Chinese literature. Thus, there is room for a work like LIIC, which tells us about the “stuff” of written texts in China not the written texts themselves. The notion of “literary information” is quite a novel concept in Chinese studies, though it owes much to Endymion Wilkinson’s monumental Chinese History: A New Manual (1973/1998—2022; six editions), which strives to make available answers and access to all aspects of the written and material culture of Chinese civilization since it began. Rather than a history of literary information per se, however, one may think of LIIC almost as an encyclopedia or handbook for the study of literary information. The editors do make a serious attempt to come to grips with the phenomena of information theory and information studies, not merely as they have emerged in China, but globally. . .  [READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW HERE]

Unending Capitalism review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Ruksana Kibria’s review of Unending Capitalism: How Consumerism Negated China’s Communist Revolution, by Karl Gerth. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/kibria/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

Unending Capitalism: How Consumerism
Negated China’s Communist Revolution

By Karl Gerth


Reviewed by Ruksana Kibria

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2022)


Karl Gerth, Unending Capitalism: How Consumerism Negated China’s Communist Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020, xi + 384 pp. ISBN: 9780521688468 (Paperback).

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s victory in 1949 under Mao Zedong’s leadership was commonly regarded as the beacon of international proletarian salvation, epitomizing the triumph of socialist egalitarianism and liberty over the inequities of capitalism. The discursive construction of Maoist China as building socialism obfuscated the fact that what had occurred was essentially a nationalist revolution whose goal was to develop a self-reliant, independent, and powerful national economy—a coveted goal among the Chinese intelligentsia since the nineteenth century, long before the revolution or the advent of Mao. However, due to a convergence of ideological and geo-political factors, the perception was created that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had not only embarked on a communist journey following an untrodden radical path, but was also a progressive and emancipatory paradigm to be emulated by other postcolonial developing countries. Reality, however, was quite different because, rather than liberation, the revolution essentially replaced one form of oppression with another.[1]

Karl Gerth’s Unending Capitalism: How Consumerism Negated China’s Communist Revolution is a thought-provoking contribution to the study of the expansion of consumerism in the Maoist era, a meticulously researched, clearly argued, and highly readable interpretation of this period. Although Unending Capitalism is Gerth’s most recent book, it is in fact the middle volume of a trilogy, bookended by the author’s China Made (2003), which deals with the emergence of nationalism and consumer culture in China in early twentieth century, and As China Goes, So Goes the World (2010), an exploration of the history of post-Mao consumerism. Continue reading

The Golden Age review

Source: NYT (7/26/22)
Sex Confessions and Protest From a Disillusioned Communist
Wang Xiaobo’s “The Golden Age” is a novel of lust and loss during China’s Cultural Revolution.
By Ian Johnson

Wang Xiaobo. Credit…Wang Xiaoping

In 1991, a little-known writer in Beijing named Wang Xiaobo mailed the manuscript of a novel to the eminent historian Cho-yun Hsu, his former professor at the University of Pittsburgh. The book was about China’s Cultural Revolution, the political purge from 1966 to 1976 that killed more than a million people and sent scientists, writers, artists and millions of educated youths to labor in the countryside.

At the time Wang was writing, novels about the Cultural Revolution tended to be fairly conventional tales of how good people suffered nobly during this decade of madness. The system itself was rarely called into question. Wang’s book was radically different. THE GOLDEN AGE (Astra House, 272 pp., $26) — the title itself was a provocation — told the tragic-absurd story of a young man who is exiled, witnesses suicide, endures bullying and beatings by local officials … and spends as much time as possible having sex.

Professor Hsu forwarded the manuscript to the judges of one of Taiwan’s most prominent literary prizes. Wang’s story of lust and loss won, stunning China’s literary world and turning the author into one of the country’s most influential and popular novelists. Continue reading

Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Robert Moore’s review of Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics: Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age, by Shuangyi Li. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/robert-moore/. My thanks to Michael Hill, our book review editor for translations/translation studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics:
Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age

By Shuangyi Li


Reviewed by Robert Moore

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2022)


Shuangyi Li, Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics: Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021. 267 pp. ISBN 978-9811655616 (cloth).

Shuangyi Li’s Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics: Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age is a long-form study of four Franco-Chinese writers: Gao Xingjian 高行健, Shan Sa 山颯, Dai Sijie 戴思杰, and François Cheng 程抱一. All were born and raised in China but moved to France during early adulthood and compose works in French. All are also recipients of numerous awards, and one, François Cheng, is a member of the Académie Française, the first Asian-born person to be so honored. Li’s strategy is to demonstrate that all four share a recognizable aesthetic, one that is transmedial and transnational, and only emerges when we are able to understand how the cultures and languages with which they work influence each other simultaneously.

Chapter 1 is an introduction that lays out the conceptual framework for the study. Chapter 2 leads with a short consideration of some of the principal concerns of all four writers before launching into a long analysis of François Cheng’s Le Dit de Tianyi (The River Below in English translation). Chapter 3 discusses historically-minded works by Cheng, Shan, and Dai, with a particular eye on how images and motifs from ancient China can be re-presented and re-imagined in French. Chapter 4 looks at the way calligraphy influences, and is influenced by, the fiction of the same three writers. Chapter 5 concludes the main body of the study with a consideration of how Dai Sijie’s fiction, and Gao Xingjian’s painting, interact with each writer’s respective cinematic interests. Continue reading

China in the World review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Julia Keblinska’s review of China in the World: Culture, Politics, and World Vision, by Ban Wang. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/keblinska/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

China in the World:
Culture, Politics, and World Vision

By Ban Wang


Reviewed by Julia Keblinska

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2022)


Ban Wang, China in the World: Culture, Politics, and World Vision. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2022, xi + 215 pp. ISBN: 9781478010845 (paper).

Ban Wang’s China in the World: Culture, Politics, and World Vision examines how the nation of China was imagined in political discourse and cultural practice vis à vis “a broad spectrum of international outlooks”—that is, conceptions of “the world”—throughout the twentieth century (7). More than a mere history of such worldly outlooks, be they late Qing reformulations of Confucian social concepts of tiānxià 天下  and dàtóng 大同 (“all under heaven” and “great unity,” respectively) or later iterations of socialist internationalism, Wang offers a serious and urgent critique of Chinese Studies and a call to political awareness at a moment when Cold War logics threaten to flatten the nuance and complexity of our field. In accomplishing this task, China in the World is an elegantly efficient volume. Coming in under 200 pages, the text is comprised of an introduction and eight chapters, the initial six of which are devoted to focused historical case studies of literary and cinematic works, while the final two are more polemical, urging an interrogation of the state of the Chinese Studies classroom and articulating the imperative to critically “use the past to understand the present” (170). Continue reading

The Making of Chinese-Sinophone Literatures as World Literature review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Dylan Suher’s review of The Making of Chinese-Sinophone Literatures as World Literature, edited by Kuei-fen Chiu and Yingjin Zhang. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/suher/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

The Making of Chinese-Sinophone
Literatures as World Literature

Edited by Kuei-fen Chiu and Yingjin Zhang


Reviewed by Dylan Suher

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2022)


Kuei-fen Chiu and Yingjin Zhang, eds., The Making of Chinese-Sinophone Literatures as World Literature. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2022. xi + 249 pp. ISBN 9789888528721.

Listing just a few of the texts analyzed in the 11 chapters of Kuei-fen Chiu and Yingjin Zhang’s The Making of Chinese-Sinophone Literatures as World Literature is a good demonstration of this edited volume’s ambition:

  • A translation by Mao Dun 茅盾 of the Nicaraguan writer Rubén Dario’s story “El velo de la reina Mab” (The veil of Queen Mab);
  • a Taiwanese picturebook about a half-crocodile, half-duck creature’s identity crisis;
  • translations of pseudo-haiku by the poet Chen Li 陳黎 into subway posters, “poetry walls,” and dance pieces.

The editors and nine other contributors to this volume show an admirable lack of complacency in exploring the intersection between Chinese-Sinophone literatures and world literature. But despite the thoughtfulness of the essays collected here, I nevertheless retain some doubts about the volume’s overall framework.

Kuei-fen Chiu and Yingjin Zhang’s introduction, “Chinese-Sinophone Literatures as World Literature” is dedicated to explaining the somewhat unwieldy conceptual contraption of the title. At its core is “world literature”; Chiu and Zhang favor David Damrosch’s definition of world literature as encompassing works that are “actively present within a literary system beyond that of its original culture”[1] while acknowledging that even this effort to open up the category does not do away with the structures of publishing, scholarship, and prestige that favor a Eurocentric canon. Chiu and Zhang use the term “Chinese-Sinophone Literatures” as a way to “distance our position from a preoccupation with ‘China/center/major vs. non-China/periphery/minor debates” (8), charting a course between lumping all literature written in Chinese together and a Sinophone framework that excludes mainland literature and non-Chinese-speaking readers. Chinese-Sinophone literatures, the editors posit, are actively made into world literature as “the work travels beyond national boundaries and gains a new life in world literary space” (11, original emphasis). Chiu and Zhang emphasize a world literature defined not only by texts, but also by the translators and publishers who bring those texts across borders, by the genres used to package those texts for new audiences, and by the technologies and media used to disseminate these texts globally. Continue reading

The Suicide of Miss Xi review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Joan Judge’s review of The Suicide of Miss Xi: Democracy and Disenchantment in the Chinese Republic, by Bryna Goodman. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/joan-judge/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

The Suicide of Miss Xi:
Democracy and Disenchantment in the Chinese Republic

By Bryna Goodman


Reviewed by Joan Judge

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2022)


Bryna Goodman, The Suicide of Miss Xi: Democracy and Disenchantment in the Chinese Republic. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2021, 339 pages. ISBN: 9780674248823 (Hardcover)

The Suicide of Miss Xi: Democracy and Disenchantment in the Chinese Republic is a deeply researched thick description of a dramatic suicide that took place on September 8, 1922, a pivotal moment in the unfolding of China’s troubled Republic. Goodman extracts three key facets of the incident that have ramifications for a fuller understanding of the period: gender and the ambiguous status of the New Woman; the stock exchange and the fragility of both economic structures and economic understanding; and the law as manipulable force rather than final arbiter. The story is layered, the key protagonists flawed, and the outcome neither clear nor satisfactory. Miss Xi’s suicide thus stands in for the complexity and unsettledness of the period.

The book “illuminates a moment, after the fall of empire and before the rise of central party rule, when urban Chinese improvised practices of liberal democracy in public life” (24). The moment coincides with the May Fourth period with its forceful narratives of newness and its invocations of the power of Mr. Science and Mr. Democracy. The suicide of Miss Xi highlights how removed those narratives were from the messy contradictions of what Goodman labels the “vernacular” realm. She probes reactions to the suicide in the periodical press and in associational life (native-place associations, chambers of commerce, trade associations [a.k.a., “guilds”], the Jingwu Athletic Association, etc.) for evidence of democratic forces that struggled to assert themselves despite the lack of state scaffolding to support them. Her rich primary source base includes newspapers; associational, professional and women’s journals; and police, commercial, native place, diplomatic, private, and court archives. Through scrutinizing of these materials, she uncovers what she describes as an active “public without a Republic.” Continue reading

Feminisms with Chinese Characteristics review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Lina Qu’s review of Feminisms with Chinese Characteristics, edited by Ping Zhu and Hui Faye Xiao. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/lina-qu/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Feminisms with Chinese Characteristics

Edited by Ping Zhu and Hui Faye Xiao


Reviewed by Lina Qu

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2022)


Ping Zhu and Hui Faye Xiao, eds. Feminisms with Chinese Characteristics. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2021. xii + 380 pp.
ISBN: 9780815637257 (Paper); 9780815637394 (Hardcover); 9780815655268 (eBook).

Feminisms with Chinese Characteristics, an edited volume by Ping Zhu and Hui Faye Xiao, was published in 2021 by Syracuse University Press in the book series “Gender and Globalization.” In addition to its theoretical interventions, the volume’s originality stems from the way its editing philosophy and content reflect the same feminist politics. The volume is comprised of ten research essays and two interviews; among these, five are translations from Chinese and seven were written in English; half were published previously (between 2001 and 2017) and the other half are newly written. These twelve entries are interconnected through common themes such as the intersection of class and gender, socialist women’s liberation, Chinese feminists’ internal negotiation with the state, and the pivotal role of NGOs on China’s feminist landscape. As a result of Zhu and Xiao’s admirable efforts in selecting, translating, and editing, this polyglossic volume assembles diversified voices (in terms of time, space, language, and identity) of scholars and cultural icons from within and outside China, forming a dialogue that bridges Chinese and English academia. Continue reading

Mo Yan Speaks review

Source: LA Review of Books (5/31/22)
Uncle Tall Tale: On “Mo Yan Speaks: Lectures and Speeches by the Nobel Laureate from China”
By Astrid Møller-Olsen

Mo Yan Speaks: Lectures and Speeches by the Nobel Laureate from China

ALTHOUGH MO YAN’S claim to fame is undoubtedly as the Nobel laureate from China, the 23 public lectures gathered in Mo Yan Speaks present a truly “glocal” writer who has one literary foot firmly planted in the soil of his native Gaomi Township and the other tiptoeing into the arena of world literature. They show an author performing a balancing act between his international elite status and the local storytelling tradition present in his work.

Mo Yan (whose real name is Guan Moye) repeatedly draws on both these strands when presenting his literary persona. His public lectures combine anecdotes from his rural childhood with musings on literary style and namedropping of famous writers (who, with the notable exception of Wang Anyi, are all men). It is this duality of humble storyteller and Nobel laureate that defines the Mo Yan phenomenon, and it is his playful creation and shaping of this persona that make the speeches in this volume so entertaining.

In Mo Yan’s own words, the path of a writer includes straddling the spheres of knowledge and imagination: “I think a writer’s education can more or less be split up into two parts. The first takes place prior to becoming a writer, a kind of involuntary, impractical, meandering learning.” In Mo Yan’s case, the initial phase entailed listening to market storytellers, local opera troupes, and “pow-boys” (child raconteurs) with a passion for telling tall tales. The second part of Mo Yan’s literary education was spent in the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Art Academy, “at which point reading and writing fiction became my day job.” Continue reading

In Hong Kong, the search for a single identity

Source: NYT (5/18/22)
In Hong Kong, the Search for a Single Identity
To explain the city’s fraught present, two books look to its past.
By Amy Qin

Credit…Samantha Sin/AFP via Getty Images


INDELIBLE CITY: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong, by Louisa Lim
THE IMPOSSIBLE CITY: A Hong Kong Memoir, by Karen Cheung

The first Hong Kongers, so the myth goes, were rebels. In the fifth century a Chinese official named Lu Xun incited a rebellion against the Jin dynasty. He lost, and fled with his army to Lantau, one of Hong Kong’s islands, where they lived in caves and ate so much raw fish that, according to one popular version of the legend, they grew fish heads. Indigenous Hong Kongers, the so-called Lo Ting, are said to be these insurrectionist mermen.

In recent years, the Lo Ting have inspired television shows, artworks and plays in Hong Kong. To those who perpetuated the myth, it didn’t matter that the tale was utterly fantastical. What mattered was that the story was created by and for Hong Kongers. It was an alternative to the dominant narratives told about the city by the British and the Chinese. It was an effort by Hong Kongers to reclaim their own history.

Two new books advance that effort by centering the voices and perspectives of Hong Kongers. Louisa Lim’s “Indelible City” dismantles the received wisdom about Hong Kong’s history and replaces it with an engaging, exhaustively researched account of its long struggle for sovereignty. And in her pulsing debut memoir, “The Impossible City,” Karen Cheung writes eloquently about what it means to find your place in a city as it vanishes before your eyes. Each book sheds a different light on how longstanding forces converged to foment the sustained outpouring of anger and frustration that in 2019 shook Hong Kong to its core. Continue reading

Subjectivity and Realism in Modern Chinese Fiction review (3)

This is my short reply to Yunzhong Shu’s inquiry: I studied both Hu Feng and Lu Ling at that time. It’s not necessary to tell the whole process of how and when I sought its publication, save for the fact that it followed the academic standard and  integrity.  I only want to say that during that process, I find some reviews positive and very helpful, while some others just carelessly brushing my work aside without trying to understand how it organizes its arguments and its major points. Again, I hope to read more substantial and responsible reviews in the future.

Best Regards,

Xiaoping Wang