China’s bookstores are making a comeback

Source: SupChina (4/8/21)
China’s brick-and-mortar bookstores are making a comeback
Chinese bookshops nearly died under the assault of ecommerce companies, but they are booming again as cultural centers and recreational spaces where books are just one part of the offering.
By Chang Che

Yanjiyou Bookstore in Chengdu. Image: ArchDaily.

On a Wednesday morning in the summer of 2011, the Beijing bookstore Wind in the Pines (风入松书局), a 16-year-old cultural sanctuary, closed its doors for the last time.

“This was once a cultural epicenter of the capital, a spiritual home for many,” mourned one internet user (in Chinese). “Though I knew its days were numbered, I still can’t help but cry on its last day.”

The closure of Beijing’s flagship bookstore was just the beginning of a long road to obsolescence for physical bookstores across the nation. In the early 2010s, China was still on the brink of its digital revolution, accounting for 1% of global online transactions. By 2017, China’s economy had utterly shifted gears: 40% of the world’s digital transactions occurred within its borders, and the prospect of maintaining any brick-and-mortar enterprise during that ecommerce craze seemed like a Sisyphean nightmare.

But now, physical bookstores are coming out of a long winter. Last week, China’s state media reported that bookshops during the pandemic had undergone something of a renaissance: 1,500 brick-and-mortar bookstores closed, but more than 4,000 new ones sprouted up. Continue reading

Sci-fi China: Avatars, Aliens, Anthropos

Sci-fi China: Avatars, Aliens, Anthropos
April 22, 2021
8:00-10:00 p.m. EST


Please join us for a workshop on Chinese science fiction with writers Han Song, Egoyan Zheng, Regina Kanyu Wang, and Chen Qiufan. Five young scholars will present their latest research. The event is co-hosted by David Der-wei Wang and Mingwei Song.

The event is co-sponsored by Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University, CCK Foundation, and the East Asian Studies Program at Wellesley College.


Dingru Huang (Harvard University)
Jannis Chen (Harvard University)
Dihao Zhou (Yale University)
Michael O’Krent (Harvard University)
Emily Xueni Jin (Yale University)

Pre-registration Link: Here

A Century of Chinese Literature in Translation review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Haiyan Xie’s review of A Century of Chinese Literature in Translation (1919-2019): English Publication and Reception, edited by Leah Gerber and Lintao Q. 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 Denton, editor

A Century of Chinese Literature in Translation (1919-2019):
English Publication and Reception

Edited by Leah Gerber and Lintao Qi

Reviewed by Haiyan Xie

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2021)

Leah Gerber and Lintao Qi, eds., A Century of Chinese Literature in Translation (1919-2019): English Publication and Reception. London & New York: Routledge, 2020. xii + 187 pp. ISBN 9780367321291.

For the past several decades, translation studies have undergone several “turns,” such as that from linguistics to culture or that from culture to globalization.[1] None of these “turns,” however, seems to have escaped Eurocentric discourse, despite the many alternative voices from outside European countries. Against such a backdrop, Leah Gerber and Lintao Qi’s collection A Century of Chinese Literature in Translation (1919-2019): English Publication and Reception is an important contribution to the current “globalization turn” of translation studies, intervening in debates and issues concerning the field of translation studies, including the study of literature in translation from a non-Eurocentric perspective. This collection of essays, focusing on Chinese literature in translation, presents an impressive tapestry of topics, perspectives, and methodologies for a rethinking of the nature of translation and translation practice in today’s globalized context. It also demonstrates the editors’ effort to deconstruct some major stereotypes and dichotomies that, to various degrees, continue to haunt the nature of literature in translation. In doing so, this book also contributes to enriching our understanding of how Chinese literature becomes part of world literature through a “minor” culture of translation. Continue reading

Jia Pingwa event

Next Friday, April 9, 9:00AM EST, we’ll be talking about Jia Pingwa and my translation of his 《老生》, titled The Mountain Whisperer. Jia Pingwa will be there (a recorded message and live Q&A), as well as Nicky Harman, who will also discuss her translations of Jia’s work. It is a bit early, unfortunately, but that can’t be helped insofar as we’re coordinating three time-zones.

The link to the event is here:

Jia Pingwa: Master Storyteller of rural China


Chrisopher Payne>

Intellectual Groups in Post-Mao China

Talk title: Intellectual Groups in Post-Mao China, 1976—2000
Time and Location: Wednesday, March 31, 7pm EST, virtual talk
Organizer: Chinese program and political science department, University of Richmond


In contemporary China, people often speak of “left” or “right” as an indicator of one’s political orientation, but what does such a label mean? Commentators often say that ideological designators in China are different, or even to the contrary of, those in the West, but how did that happen? In this talk, I propose that we go back to history to find the answer. I will trace the evolution of China’s intellectual field, paying particular attention to the key debates and the formation of intellectual groups. If we view liberalism and the New Left as “communities of discourse” rather than coherent political philosophies, we will be able to appreciate the complexity of contemporary Chinese political thought.

Speaker: Junpeng Li, his profile is available at:

To attend this event, please register at: A link to the virtual talk will be sent to you the day before the event.

Posted by: Gengsong Gao

Newman Prize videos

Both the Newman Prize Award Ceremony and Symposium videos are now available online.

The Newman Prize Award Ceremony was held in person at Renmin University in early March and again online on March 19th in an event on zoom which included the acceptance speech of Yan Lianke as well as the nomination statement of Eric Abrahamsen and speeches by others.

The results of this year’s Newman Prize for English Jueju were also revealed and celebrated. Finally, the Newman Prize symposium can be viewed here: which featured a conversation about the winner’s work with leading experts on Yan Lianke: Shelley Chan, Howard Choy, Carlos Rojas, and Eric Abrahamsen, moderated by Zhu Ping and Hosted by Jonathan Stalling.

Yan Lianke lecture

Dear Colleagues,

On March 29, the novelist Yan Lianke will give a lecture on the writing of his novel The Explosion Chronicles. The lecture will be in Chinese, accompanied by English translation. We hope you will consider attending and help spread the word about this exceptional opportunity to meet one of the greatest writers of today’s China.

You can register for the lecture here.  The lecture is generously sponsored by the Hightower Fund, the Confucius Institute in Atlanta, and the East Asian Studies Program at Emory University.

Maria Sibau
Guangchen Chen

About the Speaker

Yan Lianke is one of today’s foremost Chinese novelists. His writings capture the stunning development of China in recent decades with remarkable insight, imagination, courage, and irony, throwing into stark relief pressing social issues such as the stigmatization of illness, pandemics and economic inequality, women’s struggle, and the consequences of over-development. His major works include Dream of Ding Village, The Day the Sun Died, The Explosion Chronicles, Serve the People!, and The Ladies. He has garnered a number of major international awards, including the Lu Xun Literary Prize (awarded twice), the Franz Kafka Prize, the Dream of the Red Chamber Award, and most recently the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, as well as being shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize.

Ai Xiaoming and the Quarantine Counter-Diary

Source: LARB (3/12/21)
Ai Xiaoming and the Quarantine Counter-Diary
By Thomas Chen

Huiming road ,Wuchang District, Wuhan during 2019-nCoV coronavirus outbreak. Wikepedia Commons.

THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK has spawned the resurgence of one literary form above all: the diary. Under variously imposed quarantines, people all over the world have turned to self-writing and recording to deal with the unprecedented state of isolation.

The “lockdown diary” first surged in China, when the city of Wuhan went into lockdown in late January 2020. The most famous example is the one posted online by the award-winning author Fang Fang, who grew up in Wuhan. Her diary, kept daily for 60 straight days and read by millions of people all over the country, was translated into English by Michael Berry and published as Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City. [Editor’s note: For more on Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary, see the review that Chris Madden wrote for the Hong Kong Review of Books, a Los Angeles Review of Books channel, which appeared July 20, 2020, here:]

But another online diary from Wuhan is just as noteworthy. Ai Xiaoming is a prolific filmmaker of over two dozen documentaries. Between the first, Taishi Village (2005), which is about a local government trying to sell collective land to developers, and the most recent, Jiabiangou Elegy (2017), which revisits a labor reform camp during the massive famine of the late 1950s, her documentaries have concerned grassroots activists, violence against women, the AIDS epidemic, the Sichuan earthquake of 2008, and the plight of migrant workers. Born and raised in Wuhan, she was there when COVID-19 erupted and trapped her in the city. Continue reading

Between Mobility and Place-making (1)

“Between Mobility and Place-making: The Worlds of Southeast Asia in Modern Chinese Literature”
A virtual workshop in three sessions, beginning on March 19 8-10 PM EDT (March 20 8:10 AM SST), held over Zoom (registration required)

Zoom registration link:

March 19 (Fri.), 8-10PM EDT [(March 20 8-10 AM SST)]

David Der-wei Wang (Harvard), “Of Wind, Soil, and Water: The Mesology of Sinophone Southeast Asian Literature ”

Shuang Shen (PSU), “Mahua and Sinhua Literature as Inter-imperial Formation”

March 25 (Thu.), 8-10PM EDT [(March 26 8-10 AM SST)]

Kien Ket Lim (NCTU), “Deconstructing the Sinophone”

Khor Boon Eng (UTAR), “Counter-discourse: The Strategy of the Minorities Representation in Sinophone Malaysian Literature”

March 26 (Fri.), 8-10PM EDT [(March 27 8-10 AM SST)]

Brian Bernards (USC), “The Iridescent Corner: Sinophone Flash Fiction in Singapore”

Carlos Rojas (Duke), “Becoming Semi-wild: Chang Kuei-hsing’s Monkey Cup”

The hyperreal life of Chen Qiufan

Source: Wired (3/9/21)
Sci-Fi Writer or Prophet? The Hyperreal Life of Chen Qiufan
As China’s science fiction authors are elevated to the status of oracles, Qiufan’s career—and his genre’s place in society—have gone through the looking glass.
By Yi-Ling Liu

Chen Qiufan

Chen Qiufan wants his writing to provoke a sense of both wonder and estrangement, like a “fun-house mirror, reflecting real light in a way that is more dazzling to the eyes.” PHOTOGRAPH: YILAN DENG

WHEN CHEN QIUFAN took a trip to the southwest Chinese province of Yunnan 15 years ago, he noticed that time seemed to slow down as he reached the city of Lijiang. Chen was a recent college graduate with a soul-sucking real estate job in the ­pressure-cooker metropolis of Shenzhen, and Lijiang was a backpacker’s refuge. Wandering through the small city, he was enchanted by the serrated rows of snow-capped mountains on the horizon and the schools of fish swimming through meandering canals. But he was also unnerved by the throngs of city dwellers like himself—burned out, spiritually lost, adrift. He wove his observations together into a short story called “The Fish of Lijiang,” about a depressed office worker who travels to a vacation town, only to discover that everything is artificially engineered—from the blue sky to the fish in the streams to the experience of time itself.

Chen has since gone on to pen many more stories, win virtually every sci-fi literary award in China, and establish himself as a leading voice among the country’s growing roster of acclaimed writers in the genre. But unlike Liu Cixin, the lionized author of The Three Body Problem, who grapples with the faraway grandeur of outer space, Chen is drawn more to the interior lives of characters struggling to anchor themselves in a moment of accelerated change—much the way nearly anyone in China struggles to anchor themselves today. His work is often described as “science fiction realism.” Continue reading

Afrolit for China

Source: Bruce (3/6/21)
Coming soon to China: African Poetry, Novellas and Parables Translated Direct from Hausa and Swahili
By Bruce Humes

2021 looks set to be a banner year for what I refer to in shorthand as “Afrolit4China,” i.e., African writing in Chinese translation targeting readers in the People’s Republic.

According to the latest statistics from the sole online mini-database in this niche, the bilingual African Writing in Chinese Translation (非洲文学: 中文译本), now lists 240 translated works by 101 African authors. This shows a robust 64 percent increase over the 146 titles in early 2018.

Last year’s batch included psychological thrillers My Sister, the Serial Killer (我的妹妹是连环杀手) by Oyinkan Braithwaite, and Alain Mabanckou’s Mémoires de porc-épic (豪猪回忆录), novels that were penned in colonial languages, English and French, respectively.

But East China Normal University Press (华东师范大学出版社) has announced that two of its first three titles in the VI HORAE Africa Series (六点非洲系列) are rendered into Chinese direct from languages indigenous to Africa. None of the customary “re-treads” here via the intermediary of English. According to Commissioning Editor Shi Meijun (施美均), the Chinese translators learned African languages as undergraduates, and several have lived and studied in Africa.


Shaaban’s poetry in bilingual format

[Note:  Most of the English-language titles below are for the convenience of Anglophone readers of this article; several of these works do not exist in English]

Selected Poems of Shaaban bin Robert (夏班·罗伯特诗歌选集) is translated from the original Swahili, published in a bilingual Swahili-Chinese format, and features graphics by African illustrators. The reader need only scan a QR code to access online recitations of the verse in Swahili.

Due out soon is The Body Will Tell You: Selected Works from the Hausa (身体会告诉你: 非洲豪萨语文学作品选).  Four nouvellas make up the first part of the book, while the second consists of two hundred short parables — inspired by West African oral folk literature as well as Aesop’s fables — compiled and retold by Yusufu Yunusa. Continue reading

Taiwan Lit–cfp

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Taiwan Lit!

We are excited to circulate Calls for Submissions for two new series in our journal’s Special Topic section. These series are guest-edited by Laura Jo-Han Wen and Mao-shan Huang, respectively, on the following themes: “Taiwan in Visual Culture and Transmedia Representations” and 「《侯孝賢的凝視:抒情傳統、文本互涉與文化政治》書評論壇」.

As we continue developing and improving, we have recently added two new pages to the Taiwan Lit website, “Contributors” and “Archive.” You may now access a contributor’s bio either through the navigation panel or by clicking on the author’s name at the top of the posts. The “Archive” stores our past newsletters, in which you can view the tables of contents from all the back issues.

Yours truly,

Taiwan Lit Editorial Team


Taiwan Lit 向讀者問候!

我們很高興在此為Taiwan Lit 的兩個新專輯發佈徵稿啟事。這兩個專輯分別由客座主編溫若含及黃茂善所籌備,主題為:“Taiwan in Visual Culture and Transmedia Representations” 和 「《侯孝賢的凝視:抒情傳統、文本互涉與文化政治》書評論壇」。 Continue reading

Interview with Liu Cixin

Source: Chinese Literature Today (3/5/21)
Humanity, Crisis, and Changes: An Interview with Liu Cixin
[Originally published in Chinese at Kyodo News Beijing, March 1, 2021. click here for link to article]
By: Okuma Yuichiro
Translated by: John Broach

Liu Cixin, photo by Li Yibo

Okuma Yuichiro (hereafter referred to as OY): The Three-Body Problem tells a story about a female scientist who, having lost hope for humanity after her father’s death during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), initiates communications with aliens. Why did you choose the Cultural Revolution as the background of the story?

Liu Cixin (hereafter referred to as LCX): When conceiving this novel, I dove into modern Chinese history and looked for what can cause complete disillusionment with humanity. I found the Cultural Revolution. Even though the later Reform and Opening up have brought many challenges for Chinese people as well, none of those problems were enough to make someone lose hope in humanity and human civilization.  Things like the COVID-19 pandemic unsettle us, but they are insignificant when compared to the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution. I came of age during the Cultural Revolution, which has made me more sensitive than younger generations to possible future crises or disasters. The future catastrophes depicted in my novel are not entirely fantasies, but exist in my subconscious. Of course, I only searched in Chinese history, if I looked for the context of the novel in world history, I might have found other historical periods of similar gravity. Continue reading

A Modernity Set to a Pre-Modern Tune review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Brian Skerratt’s review of A Modernity Set to a Pre-Modern Tune: Classical-Style Poetry of Modern Chinese Writers, by Haosheng Yang. 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 Denton, editor

A Modernity Set to a Pre-Modern Tune:
Classical-Style Poetry of Modern Chinese Writers

By Haosheng Yang

Reviewed by Brian Skerratt

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2021)


Haosheng Yang, A Modernity Set to a Pre-Modern Tune: Classical-Style Poetry of Modern Chinese Writers Leiden: Brill, 2016. ix + 255 pp. ISBN: 978-90-04-31079-7

Classical-style poetry is an unlucky genre. If one has not experienced suffering and struggled in society, one can hardly write any satisfying poems. . . . The feeling of suffering is not necessarily described in poems immediately. Poems do not necessarily describe suffering directly either. But because of the suffering, one’s emotion can be stimulated more deeply; one will think about writing poems, will be more sympathetic when reading other’s [sic] poems, and will express one’s own feelings more easily, even though those feelings might be far apart from suffering (Yang, 221).

So wrote Nie Gannu 聶紺弩 (1903-1986) in a letter to a friend. Nie, like many Chinese intellectuals of his generation, had enthusiastically embraced new ideas and social progress—including the New Culture Movement, New Literature, and leftist revolution—only to become a victim of the new China he had helped create. After training at the prestigious Huangpu Military Academy, Nie began a career as a journalist and intellectual; he was critical of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government and later joined the League of Left-Wing Writers. However, only a matter of years after the Communists came to power in 1949, Nie was labeled a rightist and sent to the “Great Northern Wilderness” (北大荒) in Heilongjiang for four years of labor reform. After he returned from hard labor, he was arrested again as a counterrevolutionary and only released following another ten years of confinement. What makes Nie’s case interesting is that his time spent doing hard labor inspired him to produce poetry—and not just any poetry, but dense, highly allusive, classical poetry, exactly the form and style attacked so vehemently by the New Literature movement decades earlier. When the supervisor at the labor site instructed the prisoners to compose poetry, as part of a nationwide campaign to create “new folk songs,” Nie recalls, “I do not know why, but suddenly I thought about composing poems in the old style. Maybe the farther I was from the literary circle, the more I believed that only old poetry was poetry. . . . As a result, that might be the first time I wrote about labor, and also the first time I officially composed classical-style poetry” (qtd. 183). The extreme physical and psychological toll of labor reform led this writer in his late fifties to find solace in poetry, and that solace he found most naturally in traditional, classical verse, rather than the modern, vernacular poetry demanded by fashionable literary circles, which he himself had once advocated. Continue reading

New books by Martin Winter


Happy Lantern Festival, may this lunar year be better than the last one! I wrote a Rat poem on the last day of 2020, it was presented by Yi Sha.

Actually I wanted to tell you about the new book finally coming out, NPC A-J, Chinese-German. I have posted about Yi Sha’s NPC a while before, several years now. I have been participating in it since 2013. Now the first book with NPC poets in Chinese and German is finally going to print. The book info is in here:

Anyone interested in doing a review somewhere? It’s not in English, just Chinese/German, so maybe it’s not suitable for a MCLC review. But we would be happy to send the book to you asap.

And the second book is my own first book coming out in China. Came out last fall, fall 2020. Have I posted about this before? Maybe not. Here is the link:

Poetry, of course. Great book!

Small censorship issue, see here


Martin 维马丁