I've read Mo Yan's Pow! about a year ago and i loved it. ive read The Republic of Wine and Red Sorghum since and those were great aswell.
Has anyone else read Mo Yan? i dont know what to read of his next.
Also a Chinese lit thread in general, ive heard Wang Xiaobo is good but im yet to read any of his works.
Bump. I'm anxious to get to the section on Mo Yan within one of my Anthologies. Additionally, I've been reading some more classical Chinese works alongside the more modern authors within Chinese literature and must say that it is rather refreshing when juxtaposed with the Western tradition.
I really like Mo Yan's surreal sections. The ones in Pow! were great; the part speaking to the monk and the meat festival.
I'm keen to read Dream of the Red Chamber and Plum in a Golden Vase, any ratings or views on those ?
I disagree in regards to Mo Yan and Lu Xun, but unfortunately every chinese book I have read is equally bad, and the translation makes for halting and unaesthetic prose.
The Blood Merchant is a case inparticular.
I'm not in a position to make such statements as of now considering I've only been able to scratch the surface of Chinese lit. I've been asking for flowcharts for authors and eras to be honest but I've gotten no results.
Any thoughts on Soul Mountain? i've not been able to get my hands on a copy in China and I'm curious
lu xun is a really good writer, but he worked in two distinct literary traditions. as a practitioner of classical chinese he was middling, overrated due to mao/the CCP's admiration of his works and ideas. as a vernacular chinese writer he was an excellent writer of short, piercing stories (very similar to maupassant, whom lu xun considered a major influence, or a chekhov). however, he lacked (imo) a sustained, overarching narrative that stands on its own when divorced from social observation of the turbulent early 20th century china.
i only read a few things by mo yan. i like him, but his work is too meandering and vague and lacks a clear sense of purpose or direction. as observation pieces and fables they're interesting, but they don't capture Chinese-ness (across thousands of years, as opposed to just a few decades) in the same way that jin yong does.
i said chinese lit is mostly garbage (since it's very young and has a very strange history, esp int he past century or so), but i do think mo yan, lu xun, and gao xinjian are good, but not superbly excellent in the same way that i genuinely think jin yong is. evluation of jin yong is difficult however simply because he is a "genre" writer, with all the baggage that label and his subject matter entails.
no but they're pretty easily findable if you read chinese.
i hesitate to recommend reading jin yong in translation. the >translation meme is ridiculous but jin yong's works are a distillation of chinese history and culture and i think it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to understand why he's good if you don't have some sort of immersion/understanding of chinese history and culture, and by extension, the language.
you can read it in english (lots of fan translations floating around out there of varying qualities, im not sure how many official translations there are/how findable) but i think you won't find it particularly enjoyable if you don't have a grounding in chinese history/culture/language. the difference from reading an old european book is more pronounced because dynastic china developed almost completely separate from the western world, and as such, the differences in the chinese literary tradition and the western literary tradition are more pronounced and noticeable.
So what you are getting at is that the reading will appreciate it if they have cultural and historical competency and understanding?
I know a good deal of this via readings into history and working through reference materials in English.
if you do then you'll probably appreciate it just fine. it's particularly helpful to have a basic understanding of historical moral values and schools of thoughts, particularly confucianism but also the other competing/complementary schools, and how students/sons were expected to interact with fathers/teachers.
Interesting points, thanks. I really need to into Chinese lit a bit- I can see how the disconnect with previous literary tradition would be jarring, and how genre fiction (with less hang-ups about trying to be as 'modern' as the rest of the world) could well end up better for being less tryhard.
On the other hand some of the stuff I've read (bits of Lu Xun, Zhang Ailing, Qian Zhongshu and others) has been good.
Also I can't remember which author it was, but somebody in the early 20th century wrote a retelling of Outlaws of the Marsh informed by (I thnk) Freudian psychology, with the 'heroes' becoming blood and sex-crazed psychopaths. Seemed fun.
I'm reading Northern Girls by Sheng Keyi at the moment. It's literally a novel about a girl with big breasts who uses them to get through life in boom-years Shenzhen. I love how lewd Chinese lit can get.
Oh, I didn't say it had literary merit. I mean, there's more to it than just a girl with big tits, but that's the part I'm appreciating the most. There's nothing wrong with reading something just for tits, is there?
I would say that there is not one currently and even if there is we either haven't discovered this individual or won't realize their greatness until some time has passed and we can contextualize and look back in reflection.
Just checking in to confirm that I spent a solid 45 minutes looking for passable english translations, and all I found was barely readable copy of what seems to be google translate. This makes me sad.
This thread mentions Mo Yan and Lu Xun. Since you are reading in English that is probably a good place to start, as is Pearl Buck's The Good Earth (BUT ONLY PART 1).
Mo Yan: Red Sorghum, Life and Death are Wearing me Out, and Sandalwood Death
Lu Xun has a massive anthology called Ah-Q
Outlaws of the Marsh
Dreams of the Red Chamber
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Journey to the West
Spring and Autumn Annals
Tao Te Ching
Art of War
Also Stick has image and recs
Im about to start Pow! What timing. Itll be my 5th mo yan, i love his books.
Heres a pasta i made ages ago and that i post whenever theres a chinese lit thread.
Abd yes, read dream of the red chamber, its fantastic, one of the best books ever, up there with genji monogatari, which has a similar feel to it.
Early Modern and Modern:
Zhang Ailing ( Eileen Chang)
The 4 Classics (plus)
Journey To The West
Jing Ping Mei
Carnal Prayer Mat
Romance Of The Western Chamber
Peace Blossom Fan
Circle of Chalk
The Injustice of Dou E
Autumn in The Han Palace
Gao Xingjian's plays
Lao She's Teahouse
Classic of the Mountains and Seas
Records of The Taiping Era
Dynasty histories (Book of "_____")
Classic of Songs / Book of Odes
As a native Chinese reader, my favorite contemporary authors(in descending order) are:
阎连科 Yan Lianke is similar to Kafka+Houellebecq with strange plots and shady characters
余华 Yu Hua
韩寒 Han Han is a must read if you want to learn about societal conflicts in China
九把刀 Jiu Ba Dao (screenwriter) is a pop writer like Chuck Palahniuk but trashier
老舍 Lao She is the Hemingway of China
霍达 Huo Da is Muslim Chinese
苏童 Su Tong
莫言 Mo Yan
陳忠實 Chen Zhong Shi《白鹿原》
Can you rec me a Yu Hua book? I read To Live and thought it was okay, a bit too melodramatic / over the top with the awful tragedies over and over. The movie adaptation is quite good.
Ysn Liankes Dream of Ding Village is really good.
Some of the characters that come up again in classical Chinese literature are great, Outlaws of the Marsh has some great ones.
Is there any modern literature that shows cultural tropes of different areas of China? a contemporary version of that would be really interesting.