Fiction about Beijing

Quick link: as seen in Shelf Awareness, an article in the Guardian that lists the author’s top 10 books on Beijing. Here’s the list:

  1. Beijing Coma by Ma Jian
  2. Please Don’t Call Me Human by Wang Shuo
  3. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li
  4. The Uninvited by Yan Geling
  5. The Crazed by Ha Jin
  6. The Last Empress by Anchee Min
  7. Serve the People by Yan Lianke
  8. I Love Dollars by Zhu Wen
  9. The Dragon’s Tail by Adam Williams
  10. Beijing Doll by Chun Sue

Little-known fact about Bookavore: in an attempt to make my specialty as obscure and useless as possible, I not only got my BA in East Asian Studies, I also spent a year writing my honors thesis on a particular type of contemporary Chinese literature that I called the “body poetics literature,” of which Beijing Doll was one. To make it a soundbite: it was pretty much Chinese chick lit. But there’s a lot going on under the surface of the books, if you’re looking for it (which, having a thesis to write, I did). I’ve noticed a lot of people are surprised that the rising generation of Chinese aren’t pushing for democracy and reform–there are a lot of factors involved in this, of course, but if you want a look into some of the reasons why, read Beijing Doll (or the other two books I focused on, Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui and Candy by Mian Mian).

Anyway, of this list, I would also highly recommend I Love Dollars, and Please Don’t Call Me Human (or anything by Wang Shuo). Haven’t read Beijing Coma yet, but it’s in my stack to be read. I also am very fond of Xiaolu Guo, who is not on this list, author of A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, which I had as a staff pick for awhile and is recently in PB. She also has a new book coming out next month (I believe) that I adored, called 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth. If I remember correctly, this was a book published in Chinese originally several years ago, and recently translated and published in English. Good great awesome, definitely recommended.

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1 comment so far

  1. Sarah Rettger on

    Latin American Studies. Gotta love the useful liberal arts majors!


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