Posts by Anthill

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300

 

We all know the legend of the 300 Spartan stories who fended off the godking Xerxes of Bad Prose. Clad in clean grammatical sandals and minimal adjectival leather, armed with the sharp blades of apt metaphor, they stymied the advance of the slave empire of RSS, and died martyrs to narrative in a news-obsessed world. And they had sexy abvs.

So forget 70 years after the defeat of Japan, even if in Beijing we're loving the blue skies fabricated for the occasion. Today we're celebrating 300 posts on the Anthill, since we launched in China just shy of three years ago. (Other anniversaries include ten years in China for fiction editor Tom Pellman, and seven years to the day since I first moved to Beijing.)

Week after next there will be a military parade on Tiananmen square in honour of our achievement. But until then here are six brave warriors from among the 300, which you might have missed before. They and others will also be collected in our anthology book, coming out at the end of the year from Earnshaw Books and with a big bash at the Beijing bookworm.

Lots of good new stuff in the pipeline in the coming months, including nonfiction by David Moser, Jeremiah Jenne, Jonathan Kos-Read and RFH, plus photography, fiction, poetry and translation. Sign up to the weekly email digest to not miss a beat, and share our Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for reading us! - Alec

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Scotch & Stories (audio)

 

On May 27th at the Beijing Bookworm we held the Anthill's second writers night, Scotch and Stories. It was a sold out house (click the link for pics) and we've been drip-feeding the stories onto the hill (those links below). Now the audio is up on Beijing Cream. Big thanks to Anthony Tao for helping to organise the event, and to Beijing Cream and RFH for spreading the word (plus posting my somewhat controversial review of a sexpat memoir a few days before it). Bigger thanks still to all the readers and drinkers who made the night so special.

Without further ado, here's the audio, best listened to with a dram of whisky in hand:

 

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Scotch & Stories: Anthill writers night

 

Those of you following the Anthill last year might remember our first storytelling night, Writers and Rum. We packed out Cuju bar in the hutongs (admittedly not difficult to pack out), got through nine stories and nine rums, and from what we can remember had an amazing time. This year we're doing it again, at the Beijing Bookworm on May 27th.

The night is in conjunction with the Bookworm's new Whisky Wednesdays and is sponsored by  the Beijing whisky shop Ai Whisky. We've got a fantastic line-up of six writers – reading non-fiction, confessionals, fiction and poetry – and each story will be hand-matched to a fine whisky by Anthony Tao, who runs Whisky Wednesdays and Beijing Cream. The price is 150RMB, including six whiskies, which comes in at 25RMB per scotch and is absolutely insane. Space is limited so if you want to reserve your spot email colonyemails[at]gmail.com. There are also non-drinking tickets available for 50RMB (40RMB for members) both in advance and at the door.

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Contemporary Chinese literature top dozen

An editor's pick for your spring reading list

 

A couple of years back we compiled a list of 20 China books to read (and 5 to avoid), which I've just updated for 2015 with some new titles. Absent from that rollcall was contemporary Chinese literature (except for this collection of short stories), as I had a vague notion about making a separate list for it. I just did.

Here are a dozen books curated as an open sesame, all by living authors, published in the last few decades and available in English. It's selective and subjective, of course – just a few books I think are a good introduction to new Chinese fiction in translation – and there are plenty of fantastic titles I've missed.

I deliberately left out Chinese writers overseas – Gao Xingjian, Ha Jin, Ma Jian, Guo Xiaolu, Amy Tan, Yiyun Li – to focus on novelists and short story writers living in the mainland. Part of the point is to show that there's more to mainland authors than Mo Yan and Cultural Revolution scar literature. I prefer an urban to a rural focus, as it's so much more relevant to the China around me, and this list likely shows that bias. I've also favoured less well known and younger authors where I can.

Happy reading, and share what I missed in the comments!

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20 China books to read (and 5 to avoid)

 

Update April 2015 - I've made some changes to this list since it was first published in 2013, to reflect new publications and in the spirit of getting it just right. Osnos, French, Goldblatt and Troost are the new additions. I should also disclose I know some of the authors.

 

This is a (revised) answer I posted on Quora to the question "What are some good books that can give me a window into modern China?" I'm selective, and have split it into five lists of five: books on contemporary China, books on modern China (i.e. late and post Qing history), books from Chinese voices, China books from the canon ... and a bonus list of China books to avoid.

I hope this is useful as an open sesame for new China watchers, or to encourage old hands to plug those holes in their bookshelf. The lists are designed as all you need to pack your bag or Kindle with to understand that aspect or perspective of China, without being overwhelming. Do go ahead and say what I missed in the comments.

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