“Maple” comic book adaptation

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Lena Henningsen and Joschua Seiler’s translation of “Maple” (枫), a comic book (连环画) adapation of the 1979 “scar” short story by Zheng Yi 郑义. The translation, with illustrations, appears here: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/maple/. You’ll also find there a link to Lena Henningsen’s introduction to the text.


Kirk Denton

Taiwan-born Li Kotomi nabs Akutagawa Prize

Source: The Asahi Shimbun (7/15/21)
Taiwan-born novelist Li Kotomi nabs Akutagawa Prize


Li Kotomi speaks to reporters on July 14 after winning the prestigious Akutagawa literary prize. (Yoshihisa Uehara) 

Li Kotomi from Taiwan was awarded the prestigious Akutagawa Prize on July 14 for her Japanese-language novel “Higanbana ga Saku Shima” (The island where red spider lilies bloom).

Li, 31, became the second novelist whose native language is not Japanese to receive the honor following Yang Yi, who won the literary prize in 2008 for her novel “Toki ga Nijimu Asa” (Morning when time bleeds).

Mai Ishizawa, 41, also received the prize for her novel “Kai ni Tsuzuku Basho nite” (At places adjacent to shells) the same day.

Li, who also goes by the name Li Qinfeng, was born in Taiwan in 1989. Her novel is a fable that depicts an imaginary island to pose questions about gender equality.

Drawn in by the lure of the Japanese language, Li came to Japan in 2013 after graduating from National Taiwan University. She made her debut as a novelist in 2017 with her first work written in Japanese. Continue reading

Force of Forging Words: A Translation Conversation

Source: Notes on the Mosquito (7/7/21)
Force of Forging Words: A Translation Conversation
An online launch for Words as Grain: New and Selected Poems by Duo Duo 多多, translated by Lucas Klein, from The Margellos World Republic of Letters by Yale University Press.
Lucas Klein in discussion with Nick Admussen, Chris Song, and Jami Proctor Xu, moderated by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

In “The Force of Forging Words,” a poem in Words as Grain: New and Selected Poems by premier Chinese poet Duo Duo 多多 (Yale University Press, The Cecile and Theodore Margellos World Republic of Letters series), translated by Lucas Klein, Duo Duo writes: “outside force, continuing on / from enough, is insufficient hallucination // … // this is rationale’s wasteland / but the ethics of poetry.”

What are the ethics of poetry? Is poetry the wasteland of the rationale, or of the rational? Is translation a kind of hallucination, and is it sufficient? What care needs to be taken to translate such poetry? Our speakers will discuss these questions with the translator to celebrate the publication of Words as Grain. Continue reading

A History of Modern Chinese Popular Literature review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of John A. Crespi’s review of A History of Modern Chinese Popular Literature, by Fan Boqun. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/crespi3/ . My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

A History of Modern Chinese Popular Literature

By Fan Boqun
Translated by Dong Xiang and Jihui Wang

Reviewed by John A. Crespi
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July 2021)

Fan Boqun. A History of Modern Chinese Popular Literature. Trs. Dong Xiang and Jihui Wang. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. xxv+804 pp. ISBN: 978-1-107-06856-8.

Fan Boqun’s 范伯群 History of Modern Chinese Popular Literature is a comprehensive and sometimes quirky contribution to the study of a vast corpus of writing that has been overshadowed by literature associated with the May Fourth tradition. Originally published in 2006 as Zhongguo xiandai tongsu wenxue shi (中国现代通俗文学史), and now translated into English thanks to the dedicated efforts of Dong Xiang and Jihui Wang, the book stands as Fan’s magnum opus, the product of a lifetime of research on mass-market fiction, most of it originally published by installment in the tabloids, newspapers, and magazines of China’s major cities, especially Shanghai, from the 1890s through the 1940s. Fan’s term for this category of writing, “popular literature” (通俗文学), he devised to distinguish it from the ideological mainstream of “elite literature” (精英文学) that grew out of the New Literature movement in the late 1910s. The primary goal of Fan’s book is to integrate popular literature into the “family” of modern Chinese literature. As Susan Daruvala describes it in her helpful and concise introduction, Fan seeks to “transcend the structural dominance” of a literary history that gives prominence to elite literature by constructing “a new system of literary history based on ‘pluralistic symbiosis’ (多元共生) which would pay attention to the literary tastes and experiences of the entire population” (xxiv). Put another way, Fan aims to expand the canon of Chinese modern literature to recognize a vast and varied readership for works whose main purpose was to entertain rather than educate and enlighten. In so doing, Fan opens the door to a motley assortment of “pulp” genres—brothel novels, novels of exposure, historical romances, martial arts novels, detective fiction, and so on—whose long-term marginalization in mainland China’s orthodox literary historiography belies their huge popularity across more than half a century in China’s mainland. Continue reading

Video Lecture Series

The MCLC Video Lecture Series continues to grow. Since Christopher Rosenmeier and I launched it nearly a year ago, we have added several new lectures, including, most recently, Eileen Cheng’s “Lu Xun: The ‘In-Between.'” To register to use the lectures in the series, please click here to fill out a short form. Once you complete the form, you will be sent an email with the password.

Kirk A. Denton

Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw

NEW PUBLICATION: Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw
By Hua Li
University of Toronto Press, June 2021 | 9781487508234 | 248 pp | Hardcover $65.00

The late 1970s to the mid-1980s, a period commonly referred to as the post-Mao cultural thaw, was a key transitional phase in the evolution of Chinese science fiction. This period served as a bridge between science-popularization science fiction of the 1950s and 1960s and New Wave Chinese science fiction from the 1990s into the twenty-first century. Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw surveys the field of Chinese science fiction and its multimedia practice, analysing and assessing science fiction works by well-known writers such as Ye Yonglie, Zheng Wenguang, Tong Enzheng, and Xiao Jianheng, as well as the often-overlooked tech–science fiction writers of the post-Mao thaw.

Exploring the socio-political and cultural dynamics of science-related Chinese literature during this period, Hua Li combines close readings of original Chinese literary texts with literary analysis informed by scholarship on science fiction as a genre, Chinese literary history, and media studies. Li argues that this science fiction of the post-Mao thaw began its rise as a type of government-backed literature, yet it often stirred up controversy and received pushback as a contentious and boundary-breaking genre. Topically structured and interdisciplinary in scope, Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw will appeal to both scholars and fans of science fiction.

For further information: https://utorontopress.com/9781487508234/chinese-science-fiction-during-the-post-mao-cultural-thaw/

Rain in Plural . . . and Beyond

Film: Rain in Plural . . . and Beyond
Poetry, Translations, Inkwork, and Guzheng Harp Music with Fiona Sze-Lorrain
Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination

From the Institute webpage and additional information:

One of the rare few English-language poets of our present times working across genres and three or more languages and cultures, Fiona Sze-Lorrain presents us poems from her latest collection Rain in Plural (Princeton University Press, 2020), and shares her ongoing processes of translation, music, and artmaking that are in parallel to her writing. In this film, she also reads bilingual poems and translations of Chinese contemporary poets Yin Lichuan and Ye Lijun, American poet Mark Strand, as well as performs a classical piece High Moon on the guzheng.


The Protean World of Sanqu Songs, JCLC 8.1

Patricia Sieber (Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, The Ohio State University) guest-edited a special issue of the Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture (8:1, April 2021) on the topic of “The Protean World of Sanqu Songs.” The volume brings together work by established and emerging scholars from Asia, Europe, and the U.S. Collectively, the essays contribute toward a reappraisal of the cultural practices and social meanings surrounding the poetic and musical form of Yuan and Ming-dynasty sanqu songs. The issue is dedicated to Stephen H. West, one of the leading scholars of mid-imperial literature and Sieber’s PhD advisor.


Patricia Sieber, “The Protean World of Sanqu Songs”
For free access to the introduction, see


Wilt L. Idema, “The Ultimate Sanqu Song: Yao Shouzhong’s ‘The Complaint of the Ox’ and Its Place in Tanaka Kenji’s Scholarship”

Karin Myhre, “Performing the Emperor: Sui Jingchen’s ‘Han Gaozu Returns to His Home Village'”

Wenbo Chang, “Performing the Role of the Playwright: Jia Zhongming’s Sanqu Songs in the Supplement to The Register of Ghost


Jaehyuk Lee, “A Dialectic Between Genres and Extensions of Poetic Functions: Zhang Kejiu’s ‘Regulated Songs'”

Ye Ye. Trans. Erxin Wang, “Yuan Ming Sanqu Songs as Communal Texts: Discovering Their Literary Vitality from a New Research Perspective”

Tian Yuan Tan, “In Praise of This Prosperous and Harmonious Empire: Sanqu, Ming Anthologies, and the Imperial Court”


Patricia Sieber, Mario De Grandis, Ke Wang, Hui Yao, Jingying Gao, Ian McNally, Xu Yichun, and Jenn Marie Nunes, “In Search of Pure Sound: Sanqu Songs, Genre Aesthetics, and Translation Tactics”


Patricia Sieber, “A Flavor All Its Own: Some Theoretical Considerations on Sanqu Songs as Mixed-Register Literature”

Paper Republic newsletter June 2021

With permission from the good folks at Paper Republic, the MCLC LIST will be posting its monthly newsletters, which are chock full of informatin related to .–Kirk

Paper Republic Newsletter (June 2021)

Hello, email inbox managers around the world! This is your fortnightly round-up of recent news regarding Chinese literature, the people who write it, the people who translate it, and the people who read it.

What’s going on these days? Yan Ge has switched to writing in English, that’s what. And how: her debut English-language story collection and novel have already sold, to Faber and Scribner. While this is obviously objectively awesome news, there is something a tiny bit bittersweet about it for those of us who translate. Nothing has been lost, we tell ourselves. Nothing lost! We have not asked Jeremy Tiang for a quote, but imagine him gazing fondly yet a little forlornly at a copy of Strange Beasts of China (which is hot in Philly).

If you’re tired of books (as if), why not watch some book-related movies next month? The Chinese Visual Festival has a great line-up of Chinese-language film, including a screening of Jia Zhangke’s Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue, a documentary about three Chinese authors (Yu Hua, Jia Pingwa, and Liang Hong) and their connection to the land. Note that the related event with Jia Pingwa and Liang Hong has been cancelled, as well as a few of the film screenings, as well as… Well, more about that in the next newsletter. Continue reading

On the Horizon of World Literature review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Daniel Dooghan’s review of On the Horizon of World Literature: Forms of Modernity in Romantic England and Republican China, by Emily Sun. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/dooghan/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

On the Horizon of World Literature: Forms of
Modernity in Romantic England and Republican China

By Emily Sun

Reviewed by Daniel Dooghan

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June 2021)

Emily Sun, On the Horizon of World Literature: Forms of Modernity in Romantic England and Republican China. New York: Fordham University Press, 2021. x+167 pp. ISBN: 978-0-8232-9479-4.

Narrating the encounter of Chinese and European literature in 1827 Weimar is almost de rigueur in accounts of “world literature.” Goethe is said to have inaugurated the term during a conversation with Johann Peter Eckermann, but this alone is of limited interest. What the term does is to crystallize for that moment a number of political, economic, and aesthetic projects that antedate and follow the conversation, offering a vision of a literary totality. The utopian spirit of that vision—however evanescent—has driven the boom in studies of world literature over the past two decades, and though the ensuing debates have questioned the nature and desirability of such an aesthetic utopia, they have also illuminated the vast network of global connections that enabled Goethe to make his pronouncement. These works on world literature, far from genuflecting to the poet’s example, reveal more about that network and the possibilities of world literature as a concept. Emily Sun’s On the Horizon of World Literature is one of these works.

Predictably, then, the introduction, “Reading Literary Modernities on the Horizon of World Literature,” begins with Goethe to illustrate its thesis and its method. Sun shows how the temporally and geographically distant concept of world literature manifests in China as part of a revolutionary project beginning at the turn of the last century (1-2). From this remote affinity she seeks to articulate how world literature “designates a framework for processes of textual classification, revaluation, and production in a plurality of connected yet differently inherited and inhabited lifeworlds” (2). In this framing capacity, world literature is inextricably linked to the discipline of comparative literature and to the possibility of cross-cultural comparison. Moreover, Sun retains some Goethean hope by offering world literature “as an ideal that continues to orient and motivate ongoing exposure to and exchange with the foreign” (3). Whatever its theoretical limitations, world literature for Sun is not just a term of literary criticism, but a metaphysical project: “the ‘world’ of ‘world literature’ does not already exist as the equivalent of a map or other representation of the inhabited globe, but rather continually comes into being as that which is activated and reactivated in the processes of exposure and exchange” (3). The texts analyzed in the book exemplify these processes, as does Sun’s staging of them. Continue reading

Medial Axis of Beijing novel

Source: China Daily (6/24/21)
Beijing’s central axis runs through Zhang Wei’s latest novel
By Wang Ru | chinadaily.com.cn

Medial Axis of Beijing by Zhang Wei. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Writer Zhang Wei, better known as Tangjiasanshao online, has recently released his latest novel Medial Axis of Beijing.

Published by People’s Literature Publishing House, the book is the 40-year-old Beijing native’s first work themed on his hometown. By depicting cultural relic restorer Wei Yu’s experience taking part in activities related to the world heritage application of Beijing’s north-south central axis, it reveals the traditional culture of the city.

The axis has a history of more than 750 years. It stretches about 7.8 kilometers from the Bell Tower and Drum Tower in the north of the capital to Yongding Gate in the south. Many iconic sights in Beijing, such as the Palace Museum, the Temple of Heaven and the Imperial Ancestral Temple, are located on or alongside the axis. Continue reading

Hard Like Water review

Source: NYT (6/15/21)
Cheat on Your Partner or Change the World: In This Novel, It’s All the Same
By Jennifer Wilson

Credit…Xinmei Liu

By Yan Lianke
Translated by Carlos Rojas

Is there really anything that distinguishes an extramarital affair from a revolution? Both entail a disdain for staid traditions, an ability to convincingly lie about your whereabouts, regular attendance of clandestine meetings and the full knowledge that someone (maybe even an entire class of people) is going to get hurt. In “Hard Like Water,” the latest novel by the controversial Chinese author and satirist Yan Lianke to be translated into English, Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution is the backdrop for an illicit romance between two committed party members, Gao Aijun and Xia Hongmei. At the time, adultery was considered a symptom of lingering bourgeois tendencies, but Aijun and Hongmei reject the notion that they cannot be faithful to the revolution while being unfaithful to their spouses. After all, what is a Marxist dialectic if not an acknowledgment of irreconcilable differences?

“Hard Like Water” begins in 1967 in the wake of the Revolution. As the country’s leaders begin forcibly replacing the “Four Olds” (customs, habits, culture and thinking), Gao Aijun becomes infected with this revolutionary fervor — and personal political ambition — leaving the army in order to build a new proletarian culture in his hometown. At just 25, he is a decorated soldier whose “dossier became so full of these certificates that there wasn’t room left for even a fart.” Aijun’s father-in-law is a party secretary who has promised him a village cadre upon his return home. He is, in other words, on the cusp of a political career “as bright as a revolutionary’s heart.” Continue reading

Feng Jicai event

Feng Jicai: Art, Writing, and the Preservation of Old Tianjin
A guided tour of Feng Jicai’s work & Tianjin’s broader artistic legacy, led by world-class experts from Sotheby’s Institute of Art.
Fri, 25 June 2021; 05:00 – 06:00 EDT; 10am British Summer Time / 5pm China Standard Time
Online event: click the link above to register

Sinoist Books, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and the Feng Jicai Institute are thrilled to bring you Feng Jicai: Art, Writing, and the Preservation of the Old Tianjin. In this seminar, we’ll be exploring the artistic, literary, and cultural history of Tianjin, looking to Feng Jicai as one of its most prominent authors and artists operating in the 20th-21st century.

We’ll be hearing from the author himself, hearing about the significance of his work in Tianjin and beyond, as well as unpacking the intimate connections between his art and his other work.

What’s more, we’ll be looking at Tianjin’s wider artistic culture with Dr Katie Hill, one of Sotheby’s Institute of Art experts, as she shares her knowledge on the Tianjin Yangliuqing woodblock new year pictures.

We’re looking forward to welcoming people from around the globe – this event will be bilingual in Chinese to English sequential translations provided, we’re excited to say!

This event will be recorded for later social media broadcast. Continue reading

Increased access to Unofficial Poetry Journals from China

The Leiden University Library offers online access to a growing digital collection of China’s unofficial poetry journals. Key agents of cultural renewal after the Mao era, these journals are hugely influential yet difficult to access. The Leiden digital collection addresses this paradox.

Click here for a web lecture on the the topic of the journals at large, with abundant visuals. Click here for a video on accessing the online material. The material is best viewed on a computer. Functionality on smartphones and tablets is limited. Loading can be slow but this will hopefully improve in future.

In a major expansion of the collection, it now contains our full holdings for key publications such as Today (今天), Second-Growth Forest (次生林), Them (他们), At Sea (海上), Not-Not (非非), Poetry Reference (诗参考), the nationwide Modern Chinese Poetry (现代汉诗), the groundbreaking women’s writing journal Wings (翼), and the iconoclastic The Lower Body (下半身). A full list is found below. The items were selected with an eye to diversity in terms of poetics and regional provenance.

These recent additions to the digital collection were enabled by a generous gift from Dr. Freerk Heule. The support of Chinese poets and editors has been invaluable for building the physical collection (accessible here in full) and remains so for the digitization project.

We are working together with colleagues at Fudan University to further expand the digital collection. New additions will be announced in due course, depending on funding. If you can help us find potential sponsors or would like to support the project yourself, please get in touch.

Read on for some quick tips on accessing the material and the full list of our digital holdings to date. Enjoy!


Maghiel van Crevel and Marc Gilbert Continue reading

Rethinking the Modern Chinese Canon review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Kyle Shernuk’s review of Rethinking the Modern Chinese Canon: Refractions across the Pacific, by Clara Iwasaki. The review appears below and 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

Rethinking the Modern Chinese Canon:
Refractions across the Pacific

By Clara Iwasaki

Reviewed by Kyle Shernuk

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June 2021)

Clara Iwasaki, A Rethinking the Modern Chinese Canon: Refractions Across the Transpacific Amherst, New York: Cambria Press, 2020. ix + 230 pp. ISBN 9781621965473.

Clara Iwasaki’s Rethinking the Modern Chinese Canon: Refractions across the Transpacific presents readers with new perspectives on four canonical figures of modern Chinese literature: Xiao Hong (1911-1941), Yu Dafu (1896-1945), Lao She (1899-1966), and Zhang Ailing (1920-1995). She brings needed attention to the roles of literary and cultural translation, textual reception and negotiation, and, of course, the transpacific networks across which the majority of these processes take place. As scholars of Area Studies continue to reevaluate the field’s Cold-War origins and imagine new roles for the discipline in the academy, Iwasaki’s book offers a framework that energizes Chinese studies by connecting it to the adjacent fields of Transpacific and Asian American studies. She develops an analytic framework for working horizontally across disciplines, one which combines their shared components and concerns to create a more holistic map of the networks that unite these Chinese writers and their textual legacies across the Pacific throughout the twentieth century. Continue reading