6 Books About China to Read This Summer

By That's, July 25, 2017

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Looking for a good book to read? China-based literati tell us what's on their summer reading list:

1. Iron Moon: An Anthology of Chinese Worker Poetry

Edited by Qin Xiaoyu and translated by Eleanor Goodman, April 2017

Iron Moon, an anthology of poems written by factory workers, focuses on a side of Chinese literature often overlooked by foreigners. Our very own 2016 M Literary Resident, Eleanor Goodman, masterfully translates the works into English, cracking open the incredibly beautiful and heart-wrenching poems of lives toiled away under harsh lights and alongside the constant whirring of machines. Each of the poems provides evidence that their authors are aware of their own exploitation and powerlessness, which has colored their work with an
inimitable strength and honesty.”

– Shanghai Lit Fest founder Michelle Garnaut

2. Look Forward Spring Wind

by Ge Fei, June 2017

“Winter seems to be suitable for reading famous novels by Tolstoy, The Divine Comedy and the like, whereas summer is more suited to [Jorge Luis] Borges novels, essays, [Constantine P.] Cavafy’s poems and detective novels. In terms of recently published books, I recommend Look Forward Spring Wind by Ge Fei. I like it for its language and narrative speed.”

A Yi, author of the novel A Perfect Crime [Note: Look Forward Spring Wind is currently only available in Chinese. Non-Chinese readers can check out The Invisibility Cloak, also by Ge Fei. The novel – Ge’s first to be available in English – is a comic tale set in contemporary Beijing.]

3. October: The Story of the Russian Revolution

by China Mieville, May 2017

“In May, both China Mieville and I were on BBC Radio 4's flagship program ‘Start the Week.’ I was given a signed copy of his recently published book, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. It is a terrific read. With his novelist flare, he vividly recounts a historical event that shaped our modern history. Right now, I am extremely keen to read literary non-fiction books – the way to go for me.”

Zhang Lijia, journalist and author of the novel Lotus

4. Eating Smoke: One Man’s Descent into Drug Psychosis in Hong Kong’s Triad Heartland

by Chris Thrall, September 2011

"Thrall’s true crime memoir of his time as a Triad-connected nightclub doorman – not to mention a troubled methamphetamine addict – is surely the most engaging page-turner in the entire ‘China’ section of the bookstore. The book captures the unruly spirit of 90s Hong Kong like no other, a world now lost and gentrified. Thank goodness someone captured the madness of the era in book form.”

Ray Hecht, author of the novel South China Morning Blues

5. The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao

by Ian Johnson, April 2017

“In years of field reporting on religion through China, Ian Johnson has gathered first-hand information. His rich knowledge of China and empathy for Chinese people make the book an informative and touching read. The book opens a window for Western readers into Chinese traditional religions: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.”

Karoline Kan, journalist

6. Hong Kong 20/20: Reflections on a Borrowed Place

Anthology by PEN Hong Kong, June 2017

“It’s a collection of essays and stories on Hong Kong, a place which is a weather vane for Chinese politics.”

Alec Ash, journalist and author of Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China

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