Category Archives: The China Blog

LARB’s China Blog covers the life, culture, politics and literature of China. It is edited by Jeffrey Wasserstrom and Maura Elizabeth Cunningham. If you’re looking for blog posts prior to September 2013, please visit our China Blog tumblr page.

The China Blog running-through-beijing-500-web

A Trip Back to Beijing — Courtesy of Xu Zechen and Eric Abrahamsen

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By Megan Shank Step out of the Beijing airport, and taste the tang in the air. For the remainder of your time in the capital, it will linger, metallic, on the back of your tongue. Is it burning plastic? Coal? The sweat of migrant workers who have come to chase dreams and money? The boozy […]

The China Blog Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Reading Middlemarch in Jiangxi

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By Mengfei Chen Is it still a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife? Perhaps he’d rather spend that fortune on bottle service and club bunnies. Certainly, modern day Lily Barts need not die young, alone and poor because they nixed a […]

The China Blog Mary Guo, April 15, 2014 -- in Beijing

What Do Chinese Women Want?

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Photo: Mary Guo in Beijing, April 15, 2014. By Lu-Hai Liang Let’s start with Mary. Well that’s her English name anyway. We met seven years ago in Yangshuo, a pretty little town in southern China where she was studying English. I liked her sparky personality and sense of fun, and we became friends. I was teaching […]


The China Blog noirtrip

Noir Visions, Part 2—All the Spies in China

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My last post focused on whodunits and true crime books with Chinese settings, but its title, “Noir Visions of China’s Past and Present,” used a capacious term that can encompass other sorts of writings as well. There are, for example, noir novels and noir-infused non-fiction that deal with spies as opposed to private eyes, code […]

The China Blog chinanoir

Noir Visions of China’s Past and Present

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I won’t say that an interest in criminal activity led me to a career teaching and writing about China, but books about death, detective work and other themes with links to noir genres certainly played a role in steering me toward my chosen profession.  More specifically, browsing the campus bookstore shelves at UC Santa Cruz […]

The China Blog A Mao Zedong statue in the city center of Chengdu, China. The 30-meter statue, one of the few that are still displayed in so prominent a public space, was built after the third-century palace of the Shu Kingdom on that site was razed by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). Below the statue is an air raid shelter.  © Tong Lam

Goodbye, Chiang!

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By Tong Lam One of the most iconic scenes in the 2003 German tragicomedy film Goodbye, Lenin!, which depicts drastic changes in daily life in the former East Germany soon after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, is a gigantic Lenin statue being flown away by a helicopter over East Berlin. Indeed, the end of […]


The China Blog Photo courtesy the Richard Nixon Foundation.

Ping-Pong Powerhouses and Table Tennis Tales

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Photo courtesy the Richard Nixon Foundation By Maura Elizabeth Cunningham The 1971 “Ping-Pong Diplomacy” between China and the United States is often treated as a mere historical footnote, a quirky prelude to Richard Nixon’s path-breaking trip to the People’s Republic a year later. In his recently published book, Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the […]


The China Blog Mao Buddha Kongzi Statues

Confucius, Mao, and the Little Red Book

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All Photos by Jeffrey Wasserstrom I’ve just returned from a trip to China that began with a week in Shanghai, where I participated in one literary festival, and ended with a few days in Beijing, where I had a small role in another bookish event of the same kind.  It was good to go back […]


The China Blog DR_PYE_River_of_Dust

The Other Shore: On Virginia Pye’s River of Dust

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By Maura Elizabeth Cunningham Virginia Pye wrote her debut novel, River of Dust, in only 28 days. But as she recently explained during a session that I moderated at the Shanghai International Literary Festival, the book was a hundred years in the making. Pye’s family has a long history in China. Her grandparents served as […]

The China Blog chinaspy

A Short Look at the Long Literary History of Spies in Asia

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By Paul French One of the most noteworthy books set to hit the U.S. market next week is Olivia Milburn and Christopher Payne’s English translation of bestselling Chinese espionage author Mai Jia’s latest thriller, Decoded, which was published in other markets last year and has already generated a good deal of interest in the U.K.  […]