Monday, February 12, 2018

CHINA: Karen Recommends . . .

Today, I would like to welcome Karen of BookerTalk.  She is here to share her personal recommendations of Chinese literature.


  1. Wild Swans by Jung Chang. Sheer brilliance and provides a good overview of the cultural revolution. Genre - memoir 
  2. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. This is a stunning novel which looks at the impact of the cultural revolution in musicians and the Tianneman Square protest which laid the seeds of China's emergence on the world stage. Genre - fiction 
  3. Mao’s Last Dancer is the autobiography of Li Cunxin, a boy who was plucked from a peasant family in rural China to become a trainee ballet dancer in Madame Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy. He and another student got a a chance to study abroad in America as an exchange student – there he discovered that everything he had been told about America was a lie. The book recounts his desire for freedom and determination to perfect his talent under a regime that did not value individual talent and freedom of expression. Genre - autobiography 
  4. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Saijie. The Maoist regime in the 1970s tried to ‘re-educate’ the cultural elite by sending them off to live with the peasants in the countryside. Saijie’s novel follows two young boys dispatched to a remote village where instead of being cleansed of all tainted ideas, they instead discover new ones through the novels of Balzac, Hugo and Flaubert that they have to hide from the authorities. Genre - fiction 
  5. Inspector Chen Cao Series.  For something lighter there is a good detective series written by Qiu Xiaolong. The books are set in Shanghai in the 1990s – the decade when the country began its momentous change into a world class economic powerhouse. All nine titles feature Chief Inspector Chen Cao, a poetry-quoting cop who has high levels of integrity which often bring him into conflict with the Party machinery and his bosses.

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