Review #18: China 1949

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”

Review #17: Monkey King

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”

Review #16: The Message

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”

Review #14: Fate

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”

Notes on: Nobel Prizes

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”

Review #12: Little Gods

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”

Review #11: White Ivy

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”


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