Crashing the Party: An Interview with Scott Savitt

By Matthew Robertson

Editor’s Introduction: The China Blog often publishes something at this time of year that looks back in one way or another to the June 4th Massacre of 1989, an act of state violence that curtailed a national movement whose biggest protests took place at Tiananmen Square.  This year is no different.  Our June 4th anniversary post this time takes the form of an interview with an eyewitness to the demonstrations and crackdown of 1989, Scott Savitt, who has recently published a memoir, Crashing the Party: An American Reporter in China, which deals in part with the dramatic events that convulsed Beijing and captivated television audiences around the world twenty-eight years ago. Matthew Robertson, a researcher and translator, conducted the interview, which begins after a brief introduction he provides to Savitt’s life and Crashing the Party, which Publisher’s Weekly describes as the work of a “smart, thrilling memoirist.” -Jeff Wasserstrom Continue reading

The Heart Grows Stranger: Sorrow & the Unspeakable in Three Recent Prose Texts

By Kristina Marie Darling

In Black Sun, Julia Kristeva observes that mourning is, in essence, a loss of language. Words abandon their meaning; sentences no longer fit together the way they should. Yet it is language that allows us to derive significance from an experience, integrating it into our understanding of the world around us. The sorrow of a lost object, then, is a double loss: the thing itself has vanished and so too has its place in the lovely arc of story. Once we have fallen out of language, the absence itself becomes unspeakable, and likewise, the stories that makes us ourselves. Continue reading

Alexander Woollcott’s Memorial of Father Francis Duffy of New York’s 69th Regiment

By John Romano 

This piece was written by Alexander Woollcott, New Yorker drama critic and Algonquin wit, one night in 1932, after attending the funeral at St. Patrick’s of Father Francis Duffy, the most famous army chaplain in World War I, who at the age of 46 had volunteered for service in France with New York’s Fighting 69th Regiment. Woolcott’s tribute to Duffy was the more surprising because Woolcott, the model for Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner, was not only notoriously caustic and acerbic but also an outspoken atheist. But: “There were many of us there today,” Woolcott wrote of the funeral, “heathens like myself, who without belonging to his outfit, had nevertheless been attached to him for rations — of the spirit … While we waited, my own thoughts jumped back to that desperate October in 1918 when his regiment, the old 69th of New York, was cut to ribbons in the Argonne …” Continue reading

10 Ways to Celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

By Sarah Maugaotega

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month was first celebrated in May of 1990. Since then, the achievements and contributions by these communities have been commemorated each year. An important part of any culture are the stories, legends, and tales that have been carried from generation to generation, which stand as the cornerstone of these cultures and reflect the different histories that have shaped the communities into what they are today. Below is a list of 10 books to read this month (or any month), to learn the history and stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders, and celebrate the authors that write them. Continue reading

The Know-How of Korean Netizens in a High-Spec New Paradigm of Synergy: or, Korea’s Dilbert-Era Loanwords

By Colin Marshall

Lulled into a false sense of security by the simplicity of its alphabet, those students of the Korean language who don’t give up in frustration will sooner or later find themselves facing a variety of unexpected challenges of communication and comprehension. Nearly a decade after learning that deceptively easy writing system, I still often get unintentional laughs from Korean interlocutors myself, especially when I fail to recognize one of the many words they borrow from my own mother tongue. “What, you don’t speak English?” they jokingly ask, but in fact I don’t speak Konglish, that curious hybrid of Korean and English now so commonly heard south of the 38th parallel. Continue reading

An Evening with Mary Gaitskill and the Los Angeles Review of Books

By Sophie Browner

Two weekends ago, the Los Angeles Review of Books hosted Mary Gaitskill at Editor-in-Chief Tom Lutz’s home for an evening of samosas, reading, and conversation. I first fell in love with Gaitskill in college when I read her debut collection of short stories, Bad Behavior. Reading Gaitskill for the first time was like the first puff of a cigarette. It felt illicit, invigorating. Continue reading

The Art of the Cover-Up

By James Rushing Daniel

In recent weeks, the already beleaguered Trump administration has become embroiled in yet another complement of scandals. On May 9, in what is now ancient news, Trump abruptly fired F.B.I. Director James Comey, interrupting an ongoing F.B.I. investigation into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign. It has subsequently been alleged that Trump had previously asked Comey to drop the investigation, what may constitute obstruction of justice if proven. On Friday, the New York Times also reported that in a closed-door meeting with Sergey Lavrov and Sergei Kislyak on May 10, Trump shared code word Israeli intelligence, referred to F.B.I. Director James Comey as “a real nut job,” and suggested that Comey was fired to alleviate “great pressure” on the administration. Continue reading