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.

Meet the LARB China Channel Team, Part 6 — A Q&A With Advising Editor Jason Y. Ng

This interview, like the previous one in this series with Eileen Cheng-yin Chow, is with someone who wears many hats.  Jason Y. Ng is a lawyer, a columnist, an adjunct professor of law, and the President of PEN Hong Kong, as well as the author of books such as Umbrellas in Bloom: Hong Kong’s Occupy Movement Uncovered.  He is also someone who has been quoted extensively in the press on various issues.  Often, journalists ask him to comment on the latest protests or acts of repression in Hong Kong, as they know how eloquent and informed he can be speaking on those sorts of topics.  Here, though, befitting the fact that he has made time in his busy life to serve as an advising editor to the LARB China Channel, I’ve posed questions to him about books and films, variations on things I’ve asked others in this series. Continue reading

Meet the LARB China Channel Team, Part 5 — A Q&A with Academic Editor Eileen Cheng-yin Chow

This is the fifth in our BLARB series made up of interviews with some of the people who will be playing key roles in the soon-to-launch LARB China Channel. This week’s Q&A is with Eileen Cheng-yin Chow, who has, like some other interviewees, worked as both a writer and a translator—in her case, in one very high profile case, also as a co-translator, of the bestselling Yu Hua novel Brothers. She also has two institutional homes, which I’ll ask her about, one at Duke and another in Taipei. JW  Continue reading

Meet the LARB China Channel Team, Part 4: A Double Q&A with Advising Editors Mengfei Chen and Maura Elizabeth Cunningham

This is the fourth in a series of interviews BLARB has been running to introduce some people with key roles in the soon-to-launch LARB China Channel. The interview with Eileen Cheng-yin Chow promised last week will come soon, but first we wanted to share some views on books by two China Channel advising editors, one of whom used to co-edit LARB’s China Blog with me (Maura Elizabeth Cunningham) and the other of whom currently does so (Mengfei Chen). This Q&A will involve fewer questions to make room for two sets of answers. Continue reading

Meet the LARB China Channel Team, Part 3 — A Q&A with Commissioning Editor Anne Henochowicz

This is the third in a series BLARB will be running of interviews with some of the people who will be playing key roles in the soon-to-launch LARB China Channel. (Stay tuned for one with Eileen Cheng-yin Chow coming soon that may be the last in the series.) Regular readers of the China Blog will be familiar with at least one thing this week’s interviewee, Anne Henochowicz, has done: this review she wrote for BLARB last year. This Q&A, though, will fill them in on more about her, while also introducing her to those who have only recently begun to check out the China Blog or were led to this post via social media. JW  Continue reading

Dear Censor: A China Quarterly Contributor Speaks Out*

By Michel Bonnin

On August 18, while some Americans were planning to go to watch an expected total eclipse of the sun, word broke that there had been an unexpected partial eclipse affecting works of scholarship on the Chinese mainland. Cambridge University Press announced that it had complied with a request to make over 300 articles and book reviews disappear from the Chinese website of one of its journals, the China Quarterly. Outrage was immediate and widespread, as nothing quite like this had ever happened before, or at least was known to have happened before. By August 21, the day of the American eclipse, the China Quarterly articles and book reviews that had been temporarily hidden from sight reappeared (along with a statement from the press about the change).  A lot has been published about all this by now, but what appears below is an unusual, previously unpublished historical document. It is by French Sinologist Michel Bonnin, author of an important book titled The Lost Generation: The Rustication of China’s Educated Youth (1968-1980).  He drafted this letter to the Chinese authorities on August 21, just before finding out about the reversal (one reason, perhaps, that it was not ever actually sent), and he is kindly allowing us to carry here.  Continue reading

Meet the LARB China Channel Team, Part 2 — A Q&A with Commissioning Editor Nick Stember

This is the second in a BLARB series made up of interviews with some of the people who will be playing key roles in the soon-to-launch LARB China Channel. This week’s Q&A is with Nick Stember, who has worked both as a writer and a translator, with his special areas of focus including Chinese science fiction and comics. JW  Continue reading

Meet the LARB China Channel Team, Part 1 — A Q&A with Managing Editor Alec Ash

By Jeff Wasserstrom

During the upcoming weeks, BLARB will be running interviews with some of the people who will be playing key roles in the LARB China Channel.  Regular readers of the China Blog will, of course, be familiar with some of the people interviewed, but they may be curious to learn what these individuals have been up to lately.  For others, this will be a chance to get to know some of the writers and editors involved in what will soon be the newest addition to the LARB constellation of channels.  This first in the series is a Q&A with Alec Ash, a British writer based in Beijing, whose first book, Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China, has been reviewed favorably by, among others, Howard French and John Pomfret, two journalists with very strong China-related track records.  Continue reading

Cooking the News: Xi’s Digital Future

By Louisa Lim

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of China Blog pieces by Louisa Lim, building off episodes of the Little Red Podcastan excellent podcast that is hosted by Graeme Smith in collaboration with Louisa and distributed by ANU’s Chinoiresie. This post is based on Episode 12: Cooking the News: Xi’s Digital Future. Future posts in this series will appear as part of the LARB China Channel, which will launch in the fall (for some details about it, click here). JW Continue reading

New and Old Histories of the Qing Dynasty: An Interview with Richard J. Smith

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

I’ve been reading and learning from Rich Smith’s work for decades now, and most recently I have been enjoying his latest book, The Qing Dynasty and Traditional Chinese Culture. Smith, whose earlier “biography” of the Yi Jing was reviewed for LARB by James Carter back in 2012, was recently good enough to make time to respond to some questions I put to him via email, both about The Qing Dynasty and Traditional Chinese Culture, which Rowman and Littlefield published in 2015, and other topics, from the politicization of historical work in the PRC to what he is working on now. I begin, though, as I plan to make it routine to start future Q&As for the China Blog and in due time LARB’s new China Channel, with the trio of questions I put to Paul French last week about readings he wishes got more or less attention than they have and things he hasn’t read, seen, or listened to — that he knows some people think he really should have.  Continue reading

An Interview with Paul French on Bloody Saturday: Shanghai’s Darkest Day

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Penguin China is having a busy summer when it comes to releasing short books in its “specials” series, many of them linked this year to round number anniversaries. First came a set of short volumes on Hong Kong, on issues such as youth and protest, to mark the 20th anniversary of the territory’s transition from being a Crown Colony to being Special Administrative Region of the PRC. Next up is Paul French’s look back to a dramatic and dreadful day on Shanghai history, dubbed “bloody Saturday,” which will be published as the 80th anniversary of that August, 14, 1937, date arrives. Here are some questions Paul, known for works such as the Edgar-winning Midnight in Peking, was good enough to answer via email. Continue reading