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.

Announcing the LARB China Channel

Dear China Blog Readers,

Thanks to a generous seed grant from the Henry Luce Foundation as well as support from the Los Angeles Review of Books, the “China Blog” will be morphing into a freestanding magazine within the magazine. The LARB China Channel will join a set of pre-existing LARB Channels (these vary widely as you can see by clicking here), so we will be in good company. We are very excited about this — “we” being the following team of editors: Continue reading

A Collective Grief: Mourning Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong on July 15, 2017

By Yvonne Yevan Yu

It was a day of migrating rainclouds, which meant random gusts, a thickness almost tangible on one’s skin, and sunlit downpours. Summer rains in Hong Kong are equally quick in temper and forgiveness. The whole world darkens, the deluge like distant applause, then just as unexpectedly the air is open again, with a luminous clarity. Car windows and the rush beneath gutters are the only evidence of what had passed. Continue reading

The Varied Views of Dissidents in China — A Response to James Palmer

By Maria Repnikova

In the wake of Liu Xiaobo’s tragic death, Western news sites have been filled with assessments of many things related to the literary critic turned prisoner of conscience and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Few efforts have been made, though, to gauge reactions to Liu’s treatment and demise on the Chinese mainland. James Palmer’s “The Chinese Think Liu Was Asking For It” is an exception. In this commentary, Palmer, a longtime resident of Beijing and editor at Foreign Policy, argues that many — perhaps even most of the well informed — Chinese living on the mainland either know little or nothing about Liu Xiaobo or view him as a person who made the mistake of going too far, and in a sense wrote his own death warrant. Continue reading

Singing for Democracy in Hong Kong

By Alec Ash

In October 2014 I travelled to Hong Kong for a friend’s wedding. I had booked my flight the year before, and went straight to St John’s Cathedral from the airport. But instead of taking a cab down Connaught Road, a central thoroughfare usually choked with traffic, I walked down the empty multi-lane expressway. Later, after dusk had fallen and vows had been made, I slipped out of the wedding reception in the Foreign Correspondent’s Club and returned with a couple of friends to the blocked-off stretch of motorway, where crowds had gathered in their tens of thousands, to march for democracy. Continue reading

A Writer Living in a Strange Land: An Interview with Xue Yiwei

By Amy Hawkins

With an eye toward providing readers interested in both China and James Joyce with a fitting reading for the week in which Bloomsday falls, we are happy to have a chance to run an interview with Xue Yiwei, provided to by Amy Hawkins, a Beijing-based writer who happens to be that author’s niece.  The interview’s relevance to Bloomsday will quickly become clear below —Jeff Wasserstrom

For a writer who focuses exclusively on China, Xue Yiwei has become something of an alien in his home country. For the past decade, he has lived in Montreal, penning over 20 of novels set in China, which have only recently started to be translated into English. He has been described as a “maverick in contemporary Chinese literature” by fellow novelist Ha Jin, and as “Montreal’s Chinese literary secret” in the Canadian press. Earlier this year he was awarded the Diversity Prize at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival. His first work to be fully translated and distributed in English is Shenzheners, a collection of short stories set in Shenzhen, exploring the loneliness and “inner life” of different people lost in the urban environs. Inspired by James Joyce’s Dubliners, the book, fluidly rendered into English by translator Darryl Sterk, follows a recent spate of Joycean popularity in China. I spoke to Xue, who is also my uncle, about the influence of Joyce on Chinese literature and what the similarities are between the Shenzhen of today and the Dublin of a century ago. Continue reading

How Fan Yusu Wrote Dignity Back Into Migrants’ Lives

By Ting Guo

Last month, an article written by a migrant worker named Fan Yusu went viral  on Chinese social media. The piece, titled simply “I Am Fan Yusu,” was published by Beijing-based new media outlet NoonStory and recounts Fan’s family life in a small northern Chinese village, as well as her own story of running away to the southern island province of Hainan, returning home, and becoming a country teacher — all by the age of 12 years old. Continue reading