Transpacific Literary Project

I’m Esther Kim — a guest-editor at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s Transpacific Literary Project. For our latest folio Monsoon Notebook, we published two translated short stories from Chinese, one author from Hong Kong, and another author from Shanghai, into English. Here are the details:

by Lu Yinyin 陆茵茵, translated by Na Zhong
An ex-couple meet for a holiday in the mountains only to be hemmed in by a typhoon

by A Leng 阿楞, translated by Zhou Sivan
Illustrations by Leopold Adi Surya
Government schemes monetize juveniles’ dreams Kenichi talks to salamanders and turns into water
(short story; translated from Hong Kong Cantonese Chinese)

Esther Kim <>
Asia Literary Editor, The Transpacific Literary Project
Asian American Writers’ Workshop
Pronouns: she/her/hers | @aaww | @aaww_nyc

Changpian 23

长篇 // Changpian // Longform

Welcome to the 23nd edition of Changpian, a selection of feature and opinion writing in Chinese. Changpian includes any nonfiction writing, from stories and investigations to interviews and blog posts, that I found worth my time — and that you might like as well. It aims to be relevant to an understanding of Chinese society today, covering topics in and outside the news cycle.

The selection is put together by me, Tabitha Speelman, a Dutch researcher currently based in Shanghai. Feedback is very welcome ( or @tabithaspeelman). Back issues can be found here.

Hi all, I hope this finds you well. In this Changpian, which I’m excited to get back to, some Chinese-language stories and debates to read, watch or listen to wherever you are during this pandemic. As mentioned below, the non-fiction publishing trend that first inspired this newsletter has slowed down. But some of the platforms founded at its height are still around — one, 真实故事计划, recently celebrated its 4th anniversary and currently has a non-fiction writing contest going on. The jury is impressive and the deadline is end of August.

干货// Ganhuo // Dry Goods

In this section I highlight any themes that stood out in my recent reading.

Podcast society

2019 was described as the “爆发之年” for podcast making in mainland China at a podcast festival I attended in Shanghai last November. The number of new shows had exploded, although participants agreed that the podcast still occupies a niche in the Chinese content market and that it is difficult to earn money making them. A low-budget talk show format is the norm. (For more on the market, see this report and an interview with two former journalists who started influential podcasting company JustPod.) Continue reading

Must fiction from China be penned in Mandarin

Source: (8/1/20)
Contemporary Fiction from China: Must it Be Penned in Mandarin?
By Bruce Humes

A few years back I posted a piece entitled A Resounding “Yes” to Mother-tongue Literature — but for Whom and about What?

In this context, “mother-tongue” referred to indigenous languages other than Mandarin. This topic may be of interest to potential readers who perceive “Chinese literature” as encompassing writing in Tibetan, Uyghur, Mongolian, as well as oral literature (口述文学) for peoples who do not have a script widely used in the PRC, such as the Evenki, Zhuang and many others.

In my essay, I posed this question: Who is going to write in their native language — or read what is written for that matter — if they cannot receive a decent education in it?

In this context, “mother-tongue” referred to indigenous languages other than Mandarin. This topic may be of interest to Paper Republicans who perceive “Chinese literature” as encompassing writing in Tibetan, Uyghur, Mongolian, as well as oral literature (口述文学) for peoples who do not have a script widely used in the PRC, such as the Evenki, Zhuang and many others. Continue reading

Chinese Literature Today 9.1

Chinese Literature Today 9 (1) is now available online and can be accessed for free:

Below is the table of contents of this new issue (with hyperlinks):

Editor’s Note, by Ping Zhu

REIMAGINING HUMANITY: Focus on Science Fiction

Letter to My Daughter,” by Liu Cixin, translated by Jesse Field
The Affair: The First of the Hamlet Trilogy,” by Isaac (Shuntang) Hsu, translated by Tze-lan Deborah Sang and Isaac (Shuntang) Hsu
Floating Life: Beloved Wife, Part 2,” by Dung Kai-cheung, translated by Andrea Lingenfelter


The City as the Protagonist,” by Xu Zechen, translated by Xu Shiyan
Our Ferocious Self-Doubt: An Interview with Xu Zechen,” by Zhang Yanmei, translated by Yingying Huang
I Persist, I Believe, and I Shall Save: On Xu Zechen’s Fiction,” by Fan Yingchun, translated by Yingying Huang
Brothers,” by Xu Zechen, translated by Natascha Bruce Continue reading

Prism 17.2

Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature
Volume 17, no. 2 (October 2020)
Special Issue: Critical Theory and Chinese Literary Studies
Edited by ZONG-QI CAI

Introduction: Theoretical Orientations and Professional Positionings

Reading Eco-Critically: Critical and Literary Traditions Revisited

Old Dreams Retold: Lu Xun as Mytho-Ecological Writer

Reinventing “Nature”: A Study of Ecotopian and Cultural Imaginaries in Hong Kong Literature

Mapping the Taxonomies of Same-Sex Sexuality: Historical and Critical Studies

Constructing a New Sexual Paradigm: Emergence of a Modern Subject

“A New Species”: Gender, Sexuality, and Taxonomic Logics in Sinophone East Asia
CARLOS ROJAS Continue reading

Can Xue influence?

Dear all,

I am Xiaoxiao Xin, a second-year PhD candidate at School of Foreign Languages, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, P. R. China, and now a visiting student at The Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing, University of Leeds, UK.

I am now doing my PhD dissertation on the translation and reception of Can Xue’s works in the English-speaking world, paying particular attention to her influence among US and UK universities. I am wondering if you happen to know something about it, for example, which works of Can Xue are often read in courses like modern and contemporary Chinese literature and culture. I would greatly appreciate it if you could let me know. Please contact me off-list at the email below.

Thank you very much for your time and help in advance.

Best regards,

Xiaoxiao Xin

Migrant Workers and Subalternity bibliography

Dear MCLC list members,

A new theme called “Migrant Workers and Subalternity” has been added to the MCLC Resource Center bibliographies. See (One can also access the bibliography from the main MCLC Resource Center site, by clicking Bibliographies > Literature and then scrolling down to Theme.) The bibliography was compiled by yours truly, with the help of a dozen fellow scholars who were kind enough to offer feedback on a first draft. It includes material on literature and other arts and media (music, film, digital video, television, photography, art, museums/exhibtions, etc). I am grateful to Kirk Denton for retaining this approach in the theme’s presentation. List members are invited to point out any omissions and to suggest additions as new publications appear.

Migrant worker culture is an important component of Chinese cultural production today. It offers diverse entry points for scholars, translators, and other commentators such as labor activists. Keywords include migration, precarity, subalternity, rurality and urbanity, exile; labor, gender; social justice, activism; and the nexus of aesthetics and ideology (not to mention global capitalism). In addition to these generic categories, there is the question of cultural specificity or Chineseness. This is manifest in issues that range from migrant worker poetry’s claims of kinship with the Shijing tradition to the complexity of state-society relations in cultural production in the PRC today. An example of the latter is the interaction of the grassroots “cultural education” undertaken in the Picun Migrant Workers Home (music, a museum, digital video, literature, theater, “shadow” editions of the Spring Festival Gala, etc) with the cultural apparatus of the state. Continue reading

Palace Museum novel

Source: China Daily (7/21/20)
Revised novel on Palace Museum treasure published
By Xinhua |


A revised version of the novel “Shou Zang,” which means “treasure keeping” in English, has been published by the People’s Literature Publishing House to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City, the now Palace Museum, in Central Beijing.

Written by woman novelist Xuan Se, the novel tells the story of a group of “treasure keepers” escorting a special train transferring treasure from the Palace Museum down south to avoid damage from the Japanese invasion in the 1930s.

From 1933 to 1947, a total of 13,427 boxes of relics from the museum were transported to Nanjing, now the capital of Jiangsu Province in east China, and then to the west of the country until the Chinese people won the victory against Japanese aggression.

The story is also expected to be put on the big screen.

Murong Xuecun

Source: SCMP (7/18/20)
‘I’m a Chinese writer, I write about this place and I don’t wish to go elsewhere,’ says Murong Xuecun
The enfant terrible of Chinese literature talks about growing up in rural poverty, becoming a writer in the internet age, and why he thinks we’re living in dangerous, chaotic times

Chinese writer Murong Xuecun. Photo: Handout

Chinese writer Murong Xuecun. Photo: Handout

Frosty beginnings: In the late 1950s and early 60s a great famine swept across China and my paternal grandfather starved to death. Fearing hunger, my grandmother fled from Shandong province to northeast China with her three children in tow, including my mother. She would go on to meet my father in a small village in Jilin province. The village was situated in the foothills of the Changbai Mountains, a range that crosses Manchuria and North Korea. In winter, the place could freeze like ice cream.

I was born there at the tail end of the Cultural Revolution, in 1974, the middle child of three but I have few memories from those years. When I was two years old, my parents took us back to Shandong, where we lived in Xunzhai Village, a tiny little place situated about 30km from the port city of Qingdao.

My prevailing memory from this period is one of poverty. We only ate meat twice a year and all my clothes were patched and worn. When, in 1988, my father died, my mother took us back to Jilin. To this day, I never know whether to say that I’m a Shandonger or a Northeasterner. Continue reading

Wuhan Diary review

Source: SCMP (7/16/20)
Review: Wuhan Diary: Chinese writer Fang Fang’s nuanced, personal account of life under quarantine
Fang Fang documents confusing, conflicting and distressing circumstances in real time. The book collects 60 social media posts, written daily during the world’s strictest Covid-19 lock­down
By Yeung Ji-ging

Chinese novelist Fang Fang. Photo: Getty Images

Chinese novelist Fang Fang. Photo: Getty Images

Wuhan Diary, or at least its recent English transla­tion, is a work whose reputation precedes it. Its author, a 65-year-old award-winning writer known as Fang Fang, was targeted with online trolling and state censor­ship after she began posting about the coronavirus outbreak on her personal Weibo account.

Outrage grew in April after Harper Collins began marketing an English-language compilation of her posts, to be published in book form in June. Fang Fang was accused of casting the nation’s coronavirus response in a poor light. Continue reading

Taiwan Lit online journal/forum

Dear Friends,

We are happy to announce the publication of Taiwan Lit, a new online journal/critical forum on studies of literature and culture from Taiwan. The journal has evolved from a website project that faculty, alumni, and graduate students at The University of Texas at Austin have worked on for quite some time.  Ironically, it is the COVID-19 lockdown that has enabled us to reach the finish line.  The link is  Below is an outline of the website:


Taiwan Lit, launched in the summer of 2020, is an online journal centering on studies of Taiwan literature and culture. It aims to reinvigorate the intellectual climate of the field by building a transnational critical forum, disseminating substantive research ideas, and facilitating innovative modes of scholarly exchange.

We invite submissions in either English or Chinese with no fixed length requirements. Continue reading

Hao Jingfang’s “Limbo”

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Ursula D. Friedman’s translation of Hao Jingfang’s 郝景芳 novella “Limbo” (生死域). A teaser is found below, but to read the entire story, go to:

Kirk Denton, editor


By Hao Jingfang 郝景芳[1]

Translated by Ursula D. Friedman[2]

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July 2020)


The Lonely Depths, by Hao Jingfang

He ventured cautiously through this strange twilight city. The sky was gray, the city gray. There was a peculiar feel to this city, the air swollen with an impending danger. The skyline was punctuated by a relentless succession of high-rises—the buildings’ rebar skeletons were gray, their glass flanks tinted gray. The gaps between the buildings were inked an impenetrable charcoal-gray. The sky was choked by a dense layer of low-hanging clouds, the skyscrapers’ invisible crowns swallowed by the ashen haze.

As he strode deeper into this city of shadows, he took stock of his surroundings, on constant guard against potential dangers lurking behind hidden street corners. His pace was slow and measured.

He did not know where he was. The last thing he remembered was blowing through a red light along Beijing’s Second Ring Road at two o’clock in the morning. A black Maserati had come flying out of nowhere, striking his vehicle full-on and flattening him into a corner of the driver’s seat. His car slammed into the guardrail, metal and glass debris piercing his flesh like a rain of bullets. . . . Later on, he vaguely recalled the bluish gleam of the lights in the operating room, and the IV bag in the hospital ward . . . and then . . . and then . . . [click here to read the rest]

PLA site attacks Fang Fang’s diary

Source: China Media Project (6/23/20)
PLA Site Attacks “Bad Domestic Media”

PLA Site Attacks “Bad Domestic Media”

On June 10, the website China Military (, a news portal operated by the People’s Liberation Army, ran an attack piece on the author Fang Fang, whose diary documenting 74 days under quarantine in Wuhan during the coronavirus epidemic was recently published in both English and German editions. Fang Fang’s Diary, in English titled Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City, is an insider’s account of events in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter in January this year of what would eventually become a global pandemic, and it offers details about the crisis and the official response that are highly embarrassing for China’s leaders.

The piece at China Military, “The Lightspeed Publication of “Fang Fang’s Diary” Will Only Expose the Truth About More Western “Pot Throwing, alleges that certain “bad domestic media,” principally Hu Shuli’s Caixin Media, are responsible for pushing Fang Fang’s account and making it a tool for critics of China in the West. Continue reading

Graphic novel on Tiananmen Massacre

Source: CNN (6/20/20)
Graphic novel on the Tiananmen Massacre shows medium’s power to capture history
Written by James Griffiths, CNNHong Kong

Credit: IDW Publishing

As a young man in Beijing in the 1980s, Lun Zhang felt like he was taking part in a new Chinese enlightenment.

The country was undergoing paramount leader Deng Xiaoping’s “Reform and Opening Up,” and previously sealed-off areas of knowledge, arts, and culture were becoming newly available.

People who had only years before been living in the stifling, hyper-Maoist orthodoxy of the Cultural Revolution, in which anything foreign or historical was deemed counter-revolutionary, could now listen to Wham!, hold intellectual salons in which people read Jean-Paul Sartre or Sigmund Freud, or even publish their own works, taking aim at previously sacred political targets.

“In those days, our thirst to read, learn and explore the outside world was insatiable,” Zhang writes in his new graphic novel, “Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes.” Continue reading

Online lit to see tighter regulation

Source: China Daily (6/19/20)
Publication of online literature to see tighter regulation

Serenade of Peaceful Joy (2020), a popular costume drama adapted from an online novel wirtten by Milan Lady. [Photo provided to]

Recently, the National Press and Publication Administration issued a notice on further strengthening the administration of online literature publication.

The notice requires regulating online literature, strengthening the management of online literature publication and guiding the work of related publishers.

It asks for putting a priority on social benefits, bringing more high-quality works to people and promoting the development of online literature in a healthy way.

According to the notice, online literature publishers must strictly implement their responsibilities as main platforms, improve content evaluation mechanisms for online literature, strengthen content assessment, and support the creation of new works. Continue reading