A confession: the period 1946-49 is a weak spot in my knowledge of 20th century Chinese history, and I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting that. In mainstream English language histories, which tend to take a broad sweep, it often gets summarised as ‘and then the civil war restarted in earnest, and the Communists won’:Continue reading “Review #18: China 1949”
Look who’s back! Occasionally I reflect just what an elegant and complementary group the Big Four Classic Novels are. I generally don’t like anything so reductive and it always feels a bit rough on those great works that don’t make the cut, but aren’t they just a perfect little group, covering the breadth of (proto-)genres?Continue reading “Review #17: Monkey King”
Mai Jia’s The Message, which is just out in the UK in paperback through Head of Zeus, has sat very patiently on my to-read pile for much of the year, and finally reached the top just before Christmas which, predictably, added about a dozen new books to that pile. I’d been looking forward to itContinue reading “Review #16: The Message”
We meet again, Inspector Chen, you frustrating enigma. When Qiu Xiaolong’s first Inspector Chen book was released I was beside myself with excitement. It promised everything that a young man fascinated by China, prone to pretentiousness, and steeped in British TV crime dramas could possibly want! Crime mystery, set in China, loaded with Chinese poetryContinue reading “Review #15: Becoming Inspector Chen”
Something I love about reading modern Chinese fiction in English now is that, compared to when I first started haunting bookshops, so much genre fiction is available. I have no hard evidence of this – perhaps one for a future deep dive – but browse in a large bookshop or on publishers’ or agents’ websitesContinue reading “Review #14: Fate”
In all the turmoil of 2020 (and I’m sure there’s plenty more to come) I keep remembering a poll by YouGov back in June during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests. It showed that here in the UK 63% of non-white people have had a racial slur said to them directly. But it’sContinue reading “Review #13: Interior Chinatown”
It’s Nobel Prize week! It always sneaks up on me. I love Nobel Prize week. After three days of unspeakably brilliant scientists whose achievements I can barely comprehend, it’s time for literature. Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o are once again the hot tips – I can’t think of a year when theyContinue reading “Notes on: Nobel Prizes”
After White Ivy, I’ve unexpectedly stumbled upon a perfect double bill. If I’d had a bit more foresight I could have hold on and made this a dual review. This week I’ve been reading Meng Jin’s Little Gods; another debut novel by a Chinese-American writer, with a young female Chinese-American protagonist exploring and understanding herContinue reading “Review #12: Little Gods”
White Ivy is a debut novel by Susie Yang, who was born in China, lives in the UK and has, after a PhD and launching a tech start-up in the US, turned her hand to writing. Multi-talented doesn’t appear to cover it. At first glance White Ivy feels like a fairly typical novel of theContinue reading “Review #11: White Ivy”
How do you pronounce ‘Procuratorate’? I don’t think it’s a word that’s troubled my vocabulary before, but it’s central to In The Name Of The People. I settled on a nice bouncy PRO-cu-RAY-to-RAT, but I’m still none the wiser. In The Name Of The People is best known as a 2017 TV series that wasContinue reading “Review #10: In The Name Of The People”
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