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Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke is the Man Asian Literary Prize nominated story of a small village in Henan as it is ravaged by the AIDS epidemic that spread through central China nearly a decade ago (and continues to devastate communities to this day). Even though it is a work of fiction, the author is a respected anthropologist who did a large amount of field work prior to writing this book. It is a tale of the gov’t’s failure to prevent/control the spread of the disease and inability to provide basic assistance to those afflicted. It is also an interesting view of how village life is portrayed in Chinese literature and the ways in which extended families operate in rural life. The story […]


Koonchung Chan’s The Fat Years is a chilling account of a very possible near future. It was originally published in Chinese in 2010, but is finally available in English. The book is set in 2013. China has been the world’s only super-power for two years since the US dollar dropped 30% in a single day plunging all other world economies into chaos in 2011 (it seems we just barely escaped this). As the story opens China is confident, the people are happy, and a strange man (Fang Caodi) confronts an old friend (Old Chen) about a missing month. He tells Old Chen that despite the official account which states that China’s rise and the global downfall were on the same day, they were actually a month […]


In China I often hear opinions stated as facts, so today I present to you: The two best Chinese poets, Li Bai and Dufu. These two are known by virtually all Chinese people, regardless of their level of education. I have chosen a few of their best short poems for you to read today to introduce you to some of the finer things in Chinese culture. A few things you should know about Chinese poetry before reading these is that: 1. Poets were usually travelers 2. Poets typically will express Daoist (Taoist) ideals, often through images of nature 3. Poets were usually inspired by simple events, and wrote hundreds of poems 4. Poets were often drunk Dufu, who lived just up the street from me […]


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