It is heartening to see Asian writing move out of shadows into the mainstream of literary circles with major publishers, like Penguin, giving a hand to not only greats like Satyajit Ray, Han Suyin and Tagore but also to immigrant writers who crossed the seas to find new life rejecting the violence and angst of political doings in their home countries.
In China, stories of how people swam across the seas and got picked up by boats and emigrated to America in the early and mid-twentieth century were circulated among expats by children of these immigrants; young people who returned to plush new jobs in American multi-nationals in the twenty first century. Now Penguin has classified stories by some Asian immigrants in the twentieth century as ‘classics’ and is reprinting them. Are these classics as exciting as the first hand stories of immigrants crossing oceans? Read more
(From the New York Times. Link to the complete article given below)
HONG KONG — Ma Jian, an exiled Chinese novelist who lives in London, took the stage at a packed Hong Kong theater last month and asked the audience a question: Who among them had read “1984”?
Mr. Ma, 65, was at the annual Hong Kong International Literary Festival to promote “China Dream,” his satirical novel about President Xi Jinping’s eponymous domestic propaganda campaign. He told the crowd that the book, published last month in English (Counterpoint will offer it in the United States in May 2019), showed how the dystopian future that George Orwell’s fiction once warned about had become a reality in the Chinese mainland under Mr. Xi’s leadership.
“I’m going to carve this book in stone and bring it to Orwell’s grave,” he said, before reading a passage from it that he had copied onto his iPhone.
“China Dream” is a sharper political allegory than Mr. Ma’s earlier novels. It crackles with bruising satire of Chinese officialdom, and an acerbic wit that vaguely recalls Gary Shteyngart’s sendup of Russian oligarchs in “Absurdistan,” or even Nikolai Gogol’s portraits of Russia’s provincial aristocrats in “Dead Souls.”
Yet even for Mr. Ma, whose work is banned in mainland China, the novel is especially provocative because it makes a critique that is rarely uttered aloud these days by ordinary Chinese: that censorship and repression under a Xi-controlled Communist Party bears an eerie resemblance to that of the Cultural Revolution.
Read more at the New York Times link here
I Don’t Know the Word for Depression in Mandarin by Vanessa Crofskey
Vanessa Crofskey is a mixed race Chinese poet, born and raised in New Zealand, who misses Malaysia often. Her writing has appeared in Cahoodadoodling, Uptalk Mag, Kate Mag, Dear Journal and The Machinery. She has performed across Auckland, and was the 2015 UoA’s Slam Champ. Her work is introspective, identifying everyday racism, diaspora and what it means to search for home.
(From Lithub. Link to the complete article given below)
The first fiction I ever read in Chinese was a short story by Eileen Chang, titled simply, “Love.” I was in college at the time, and my Chinese language teacher had handed it to out to the class. After I finished reading it, I quietly began to cry.
I can’t tell this story without telling you what the language meant to me then. My parents are Chinese-American immigrants, and the first language I learned was Chinese. I spoke it almost exclusively until the very first day of pre-school, when I learned the sentence, “Can I have some juice?” From then on, I spoke in full English sentences. Chinese became the language I only spoke when compelled—with my family, who always spoke Chinese in the house, or when I was forced to practice it at Chinese school on the weekends. I struggled against it, partly because I didn’t possess the full range of vocabulary through which to express myself, and partly because it was a language in which I couldn’t address my emotions.
My parents did not like emotional conversations. They did not say I love you. On parents’ visiting day at school, other kids’ parents left them notes that said “We’re proud of you!” My note said, “We hope you will continue to improve this year. Please read books other than the series, The Baby-Sitters Club.” The closest they had come to addressing the issue of emotion were the times they asked me, “Why are you crying?” By which they meant, Stop crying. And so I tried never to cry in front of them. I held my tears through dinner. I cried only alone, in my room, or on the phone with friends. It seemed to me that the heart was a dangerous territory for Chinese and so I kept the two apart. It was in English that said I love you to a boy for the first time, English in which I cursed aloud. In books written in English, the intricacies of feeling and mysteries of human existence were explored. It was in the love of this language that, early on, I found the determination to become a writer.
Read more at this Lithub link
(From The Millions. Link to the complete interview given below)
Lillian Li uses her past as a server for inspiration in her debut novel, Number One Chinese Restaurant. “I got a taste of the physical and emotional toll that kind of work takes; a taste of the isolation of working six days a week, 12 hours a day serving other people; an understanding of the necessary camaraderie that forms between waiters and other staff to counter that isolation,” she said.
Her debut follows the Hans family and various staff members at the Beijing Duck House, a well-known Peking duck restaurant in Rockville, Md. Food is, of course, a big part of Number One Chinese Restaurant. While praising Ann Hood’s food writing (and “especially her essay on tomato pie”), Li also cites Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and Eddie Huang’s Fresh off the Boat as books about food that have impacted her life.
The Millions: I’d like to begin by asking you about your writing process in regards to creating a family saga. You balance characters as they age; you weave plots; you create entire histories that extend far into the past and point toward various futures. It all sounds incredibly difficult to me. Some writers like to draw their characters to create some kind of tangible connection. Others use charts and different kinds of sorting tools. There are probably even a few out there who wing it. I’m curious to know what your outlining process was like for Number One Chinese Restaurant.
Lillian Li: When I look back at how I wrote this book, I’m just amazed. I had no idea what I was doing, and I had no idea that I had no idea. For the first four months, there was no outline. There was no plot! There were only characters, their relationships to one another, and the restaurant. But I also knew that the relationships, more than even the restaurant, were where my interest in writing the book began (though maybe it’s better to say that I was interested in the kinds of relationships that could only exist in a restaurant like the Beijing Duck House). I think that’s why even though I threw out so many pages in the revision process, I didn’t end up cutting a single character.
To read more, go to this link
The ratio of classical Chinese-language articles included in the senior-high school curricula guidelines are to be decided by a Ministry of Education committee today.
The Association for Taiwan Literature on Thursday said that the ratio of classical Chinese lessons should be reduced to 30 percent and the number of classical Chinese articles reduced to 10 or 15.
By Yang Yang
A TV documentary sheds light on how far Chinese bookstores abroad have come, Yang Yang reports.
Running a bookstore abroad isn’t only about making profit, especially when the books you sell appear foreign to local readers.
In the past few decades, many Chinese bookstores have faced such a situation in the United States, Britain, France, Australia and Japan.
Besides ringing up sales, the outlets have tried to bridge cultural gaps and cross political barriers so readers in different countries can enjoy Chinese books.
Recently, Tianjin TV started to air a 12-episode documentary series titled Overseas Bookstores.
It tells the stories of seven Chinese bookstores in six countries on five continents. It shows how the stores survived difficult times and have contributed to cultural communication between China and the related countries. Read more
Source: China Daily
Recently, Zhu Xiaodan, Governor of Guangdong Province, was visiting Gujarat to explore bi-lateral trade relations. He had little idea of a unique association being harboured between his province and the land of Mahatma Gandhi.
In a first for China, a researcher from the School of International Studies, Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Huang Yinghong along with his team will launch a Chinese version of one of the representative collection of Gandhian literature, The Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. Read more
Superficial but fun, this satire describes life for Chinese old money and nouveaux: The Independent
At the heart of the novel are Nick and Rachel, a couple of university professors living in New York. Nick comes from a vastly affluent family, but Rachel is unaware of this. Their relationship has become serious, and Nick invites Rachel to accompany him to Singapore for the wedding of a friend at which Nick is to be Best Man. Nick wants Rachel to finally meet his family. Read more
Interview with Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami in The Asahi Shimbun
For the legions of admirers of Haruki Murakami, the recent release of his latest best-seller, “Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to, Kare no Junrei no Toshi” (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage) could be a harbinger of a long hoped-for honor.
When the Nobel Prize in literature is announced in October, bookmakers are favoring the author of such classic works as “Norwegian Wood” and “Kafka on the Shore” to finally be tabbed.
One of those anxiously awaiting the announcement is Mao Danqing, a professor at Kobe International University. Mao dreams of bringing two contemporary literary giants face to face: Murakami and China’s Mo Yan, the author of such historical sagas as “Red Sorghum Clan,” who last year edged out the Japanese author for the coveted Nobel Prize. Read more