listicles

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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!

READ ON...

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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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Bad China Articles: Hall of Infamy

 

The Anthill occasionally loans its soul to the devil and does listicles – so far China books and China blogs. Now we turn our eye to bad articles about China, in the form of a top ten hall of infamy. These are mostly terrible articles of the harmless variety – i.e. fresh off the boat and clueless, or falling prey to stereotypes, rather than nasty propaganda or misleadingly ignorant journalism. No personal offence meant to any of the writers, it's only intended as gentle mockery, nothing serious. Ready yourself, here we go ...

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China blogs Hall of Fame

 

The Blogging China event at the Bookworm is tonight at 8pm, and I'm on the panel. I hope to see some Anthill readers there. In the meantime, I’ve been getting nostalgic about old China blogs (including my own). I don’t believe the grumps who say that English language China blogs are “dead”, but there was definitely a wider range of smaller blogs back in 2007 when I first started following them. So I thought I’d enshrine some of them for posterity, alongside those which are still going strong, and list a few newer and lesser known ones too.

I’ve split this into four lists: fallen heroes, golden oldies, rising stars and hidden ninjas. I’m selective, but if I’ve missed any big ones, do add them in the comments, along with which category you think it belongs in.

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