An Excess Male

Source: The Verge (9/12/17)
Maggie Shen King’s novel paints a picture of future China that’s not far away
Men must share wives as a result of the one-child policy
By Shannon Liao

Photo by Andrew Liptak / The Verge

For three decades, China has been running what amounts to a huge social experiment: a one-child policy that limits each family to have only one offspring. The policy has led to a greater gender imbalance than the global average. In 2015, Beijing relaxed this policy to allow two children per family. But in Maggie Shen King’s debut novel, An Excess Male, China continues to face this real-world dystopian scenario.

In an alternate timeline set in the near future, the one-child policy has continued for several decades, radically changing the social structure. In this world, a woman can take up to three husbands, depending on how “patriotic” a family decides to be and how desperately in need of cash they are. Continue reading

Jottings under Lamplight

Eileen J. Cheng and I are pleased to announce publication of Jottings under Lamplight, a volume of Lu Xun’s essays in English translation that we coedited. See below for details.–Kirk Denton

Lu Xun (1881–1936) is widely considered the greatest writer of twentieth-century China. Although primarily known for his two slim volumes of short fiction, he was a prolific and inventive essayist. Jottings under Lamplight showcases Lu Xun’s versatility as a master of prose forms and his brilliance as a cultural critic with translations of sixty-two of his essays, twenty of which are translated here for the first time.

While a medical student in Tokyo, Lu Xun viewed a photographic slide that purportedly inspired his literary calling: it showed the decapitation of a Chinese man by a Japanese soldier, as Chinese bystanders watched apathetically. He felt that what his countrymen needed was a cure not for their physical ailments but for their souls. Autobiographical accounts describing this and other formative life experiences are included in Jottings, along with a wide variety of cultural commentaries, from letters, speeches, and memorials to parodies and treatises. Continue reading

Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce S. E. Kile’s review of Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection (University of Washington Press, 2017), by Aina the Layman, edited by Robert E. Hegel. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.


Kirk A. Denton, editor

Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor:
A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection

By Aina the Layman
Edited by Robert E. Hegel

Reviewed by S. E. Kile
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September, 2017)

Even though some new shoots with tender leaves are growing up the bean arbor that I set up some days ago, the bean vines have not yet entirely covered the arbor, and beams of sunlight still shine through empty places among the leaves. These spaces are like storytellers who break off at some crucial spot in the middle, leaving gaps that make the audience unhappy. But let’s be done with that troublesome talk. (23)

Aina the Layman, Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection Ed. Robert E. Hegel. Seattle: Washington University Press, 2017. 288 pp. ISBN: 978-0-295-99997-5.

The most elaborate frame-story narrative in traditional Chinese literature is now available in English for the very first time, thanks to the impressive collaborative achievement of editor Robert E. Hegel and nine of his current and former students who did most of the translation work.[1] Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor (豆棚閒話) by Aina jushi 艾衲居士 (Aina the Layman) is a thoroughly enchanting early Qing departure from the conventions of the Ming vernacular short story (huaben 話本). It is such a departure, in fact, that to call the volume a “collection” of “stories” is to disregard many of its most vibrant elements. Continue reading

Poet Langzi detained

Update today on detained poets–fwd by Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: HKFP (9/7/17)
Chinese poet Langzi detained after commemorating late Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo
By Catherine Lai

poet langzi

The poet Langzi. Photo: Supplied to RFA.

A well-known poet from the southern province of Guangdong has been detained after he helped produce an anthology of poems commemorating the late Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Wu Mingliang, who is better known by his pen name Langzi, was taken from his home by police officers and criminally detained on August 18 upon suspicion of “illegal business operations,” according to Amnesty International.

The NGO said his lawyer and friends believe that Wu is being detained for taking part in writing, editing and compiling an anthology of poems commemorating the prominent dissident, who died of liver cancer in a hospital under police surveillance in July. Continue reading

Book of Swindles

Dear colleagues,

Bruce Rusk and I are delighted to announce the publication of The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection (Columbia, 2017). This year happens to be the 400th anniversary of the earliest datable edition, and the theme has some contemporary relevance.


Christopher Rea <>

The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection
By Zhang Yingyu. Translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk.
Columbia University Press, 2017
ISBN: 9780231178631

This is an age of deception. Con men ply the roadways. Bogus alchemists pretend to turn one piece of silver into three. Devious nuns entice young women into adultery. Sorcerers use charmed talismans for mind control and murder. A pair of dubious monks extorts money from a powerful official and then spends it on whoring. A rich student tries to bribe the chief examiner, only to hand his money to an imposter. A eunuch kidnaps boys and consumes their “essence” in an attempt to regrow his penis. These are just a few of the entertaining and surprising tales to be found in this seventeenth-century work, said to be the earliest Chinese collection of swindle stories. Continue reading

Beijing International Book Fair 2017 overview

Source: China Daily (9/5/17)
Far beyond printed words
By Mei Jia | China Daily

Far beyond printed words

Chinese Nobel laureate Mo Yan meets some sinologists at the book fair. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

Publishers at the 24th Beijing International Book Fair say cooperation and integration are the two words which describe the event that wrapped up on Aug 27.

At the event, 5,262 deals were struck, an increase of 4.9 percent compared with the figures in 2016. The deals covered 3,244 Chinese titles that were sold or will be co-published overseas, says the fair’s organizer. The ratio of titles sold compared with titles bought was 1.6:1, meaning that China is now selling rights to more titles than it is buying.

The organizer also says that the rights relate to books on China’s development, children’s books, literature, education, economics and philosophy. Continue reading

Chinese Poetry Festival 2017

Source: China Daily (9/5/17)
Poetry for all ages
By Chen Nan | China Daily

More than 30 Chinese artists, including renowned TV host Chen Duo and actor Han Tongsheng, will gather in Yichang city of Central China’s Hubei province on Sept 12 to mark one of the country’s key contributions to humanity--Chinese poetry.

The artists will recite poems in an opening gala for the fifth Chinese Poetry Festival, billed as the biggest poetry event in the country.

The event also opens with singing, dancing and instrumental performances.

The festival, which runs through Sept 17, is organized by the Ministry of Culture and the China Writers Association. It aims to celebrate the power of poetry in all its forms and will treat the public to traditional and contemporary works, along with forums and other related activities. Continue reading

The Yangtze and My Father

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul E. Festa’s translation “The Yangtze and My Father: A Love Story,” by Yuan Jinmei. The essay appears below and can be read at its permanent home here:


Kirk Denton, editor

The Yangtze and My Father: 
A Love Story

By Yuan Jinmei [1]

Translated by Paul E. Festa

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September 2017)

Yuan Jinmei

When I was young, I never knew fish got sick, birds became poisoned, kids died. My father, however, was well aware. He was a biologist. After he died, I learned from his students that fish from the Yangtze River are inedible. Birds fly in the cogon grass of the Yangtze’s riparian zone; they flutter and fly, and plunge and die—it’s lead poisoning. Children raised near the river, young children, contract liver cancer.

Before people knew why, the great Yangtze—the legendary river that for so long flowed from the horizon into eternal poems and paintings—suddenly lost its halcyon aura as the carefree setting for the solitary swan under sunset clouds, suddenly found its expansive bosom heretofore unfailingly open to all and sundry sailing ships now closed. The Yangtze, suddenly, became our enemy. Continue reading

Old Fool: Elegy for a Monkey

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul E. Festa’s translation “Old Fool: Elegy for a Monkey” (老傻), by Hu Fayun 胡发云. The essay, which mourns the death of a smuggled rare monkey, was widely circulated online. The essay appears below, but is best read at its online home: Enjoy.

Kirk Denton, editor

Old Fool
Elegy for a Monkey

By Hu Fayun [1]

Translated by Paul E. Festa

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August 2017)

Hu Fayun

Old Fool is a tiny monkey.  He’s not a kind of monkey we commonly see, but one that’s on the verge of extinction.

Early last winter, my wife returned from the wet market and reported seeing a peddler selling two tiny monkeys; they were caged in a wire rattrap, curled up pitifully into little balls and huddled together to escape the cold.  Each time my wife returned from the wet market she brought back a few of these heartrending stories: about a wounded muntjac deer with melancholy eyes; about a few small hedgehogs fighting fruitlessly to break free from a nylon net bag; about a row of brilliantly plumaged golden pheasant corpses; about a small squirrel struggling in the scorching sun for its final dying breath; about a clowder of cats crushed together and yowling piteously in chorus. There were also small squawking quail bouncing frenziedly in a basket, bare and bloody from being plucked featherless while alive. There were frogs, tortoises, soft-shelled turtles, and snakes—all of which, as recipes prescribe, had been skinned alive. There were also those docile and adorable pigeons, rabbits, and lambs. For these small creatures, every wet market is their Auschwitz concentration camp. Continue reading

Guo Jingming accused of sexual harassment

Source: Sup China (8/22/17)
Employee alleges popular author Guo Jingming sexually harassed him
By Jiayun Feng

“I don’t care if Guo is gay or not. It’s a private matter and it doesn’t change the fact that his works are crap.”

“I stay neutral with no evidence provided. But what upsets me the most is that Guo is no longer a writer, he is a pure businessman who only wants money.”

These were two reactions to allegations about one of China’s richest writers, the young-adult fiction author and publisher Guo Jingming 郭敬明. He found himself subjected to a barrage of criticism (in Chinese) online, after Li Feng 李枫, a male author who signed up with Guo’s publishing company, accused Guo of sexual harassment on August 21. Continue reading

Beyond the Iron House

For those list members who might be interested in my book Beyond the Iron House: Lu Xun and the Modern Chinese Literary Field, originally published by Tsinghua University Press in 2014, I’d like to share with you the news that it has been republished by Routledge (2017). See details below.

Sun Saiyin, Tsinghua University, Beijing.


Beyond the Iron House is a critical study of a crucial period of life and work of the modern Chinese writer Lu Xun. Through thorough research into historical materials and archives, the author demonstrates that Lu Xun was recognized in the literary field much later than has hitherto been argued. Neither the appearance of “Kuangren riji” (Diary of a madman) in 1918 nor the publication of Nahan (Outcry) in 1923 had catapulted the author into nationwide prominence; in comparison with his contemporaries, neither was his literary work as original and unique as many have claimed, nor were his thoughts and ideas as popular and influential as many have believed; like many other agents in the literary field, Lu Xun was actively involved in power struggles over what was at stake in the field; Lu Xun was later built into an iconic figure and the blind worship of him hindered a better and more authentic understanding of many other modern writers and intellectuals such as Gao Changhong and Zhou Zuoren, whose complex relationships with Lu Xun are fully explored and analysed in the book.

Poet held in southern China

Posted by Magnus Fiskesjö <>
Source: Radio Free Asia (8/22/17)
Poet Held in Southern China Over Planned Poetry Anthology Remembering Liu Xiaobo

Wu Minglang at a police station in Guangzhou in an undated photo. Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have criminally detained a poet after he compiled an anthology to commemorate late Nobel peace laureate and dissident Liu Xiaobo, who died last month of liver cancer in police custody.

Wu Minglang, 49, known by his pen-name Langzi, was detained in Guangdong’s provincial capital Guangzhou on Aug. 18 on suspicion of “illegal business activity.”

A copy of his initial statement showed that he was interviewed by “law enforcement from the Haizhu District State Administration for Press and Publications, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT). Continue reading

Yu Xiuhua’s path to celebrity

Source: NYT (8/18/17)
A Chinese Poet’s Unusual Path From Isolated Farm Life to Celebrity
查看简体中文版  / 查看繁體中文版

Yu Xiuhua in the farmhouse in Hengdian where she grew up and began writing the passionate poetry that has caused a sensation in China. CreditGilles Sabrié for The New York Times

HENGDIAN, China — The woman who has become one of China’s most-read poets — even hailed as its Emily Dickinson — spent most of her 41 years in a brick farmhouse tucked away behind trees and surrounded by wheat fields.

Most days she would limp down a dirt lane to a pond to feed the fish. She cut grass, grasping a sickle with hands that did not always obey her, to feed her rabbits. In the shade near the house she wrote at a low table, struggling to control her shaking body — a symptom of the cerebral palsy that she has lived with since she was born in this village in the central province of Hubei.

Then, in 2014, her life changed. Continue reading

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