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I. Hong Kong Literature
II. Women Writers
III. Contemporary Fiction
IV. Modern Poetry
V. Classical Literature
This is a collection of stories by six young writers who have gained prominence in the Hong Kong literary scene in the last decade of the 20th century. In telling the Hong Kong story, they face up to such issues as rapid economic and political changes as well as the continuous impact of Western ideas and mores. They make a conscious effort to explore their own identity from a Hong Kong perspective, and to describe Hong Kong’s special way of life and the trials and tribulations of a populace caught between two cultures.
Liu Yichang arrived in Hong Kong as a journalist from the wartime capital of Chungking, and has devoted the best part of his long career to serving the cause of literature in Hong Kong. He founded the influential Hong Kong Literature Monthly and is still active as its editor and as a translator of Western fiction into Chinese.
The stories presented here demonstrate his unfailing inventiveness with form and technique. At the same time, they reveal the pain and pleasures of ordinary lives in present-day Hong Kong.
Xi Xi eloquently conveys the mood of the city during the 1980s in this collection of stories. In the first half of the decade, the Chinese and British governments negotiated Hong Kong’s fate, occasioning among the general population intense soul-searching and close scrutiny of their society.
The old and the new, the real and the fantastic, Western culture and local perception are skilfully woven together here to create narratives of the hopes, anger and fears which gripped the people of Hong Kong in this crucial period of their history.
Hong Kong in the 1970s is a time of rapid economic growth, and more significantly, of growth in self-confidence and the forging of a local identity. In a disarming style that is uniquely her own, Xi Xi weaves a deceptively child-like narrative against the background of the political and social problems of this complex society.
Seldom has a writer captured the spirit of a generation with such apparent simplicity and ease.
With three additional stories, the enlarged edition of this anthology presents samples from the author’s entire writing career, ranging from the 1960s to the 1990s. It includes excerpts from Xi Xi’s Elegy for a Breast, an intensely personal account of her own battle with cancer.
Xi Xi’s fascinating rendering of the fusion of East and West, tradition and modernity that is Hong Kong assures her place in the literary annals of this unique society.
As a novelist, Northeast writer Xiao Hong has few peers. In the introduction to her maiden novel, Lu Xun, for whom praise had to be earned, wrote, ‘Keen observations and an extraordinary writing style add considerably to [its] vividness and beauty. Its spirit is robust.’ This plaudit came at the beginning of her tragically truncated career and life. Barely six years later, Mao Dun would write about another of her novels: ‘Satire is here, and humour. At the start you read with a sense of relaxation; then little by little your heart grows heavier. Still there is beauty, slightly morbid perhaps but bound to fascinate you.’ Less well-known, but equally impressive, is her corpus of stories, essays, and miscellaneous writing, most published during her short lifetime. The characteristics cited in the appreciations of the two titans of Republican letters are all visible in the two dozen pieces included in this volume. Little wonder that Xiao Hong is one of the most widely read, widely written about, and widely translated Chinese writers of the first half of the twentieth century.
Born in 1911, the year that the Manchu regime was overthrown, in Harbin, Heilongjiang, Xiao Hong began a writing career in 1933, gaining nationwide notice for her first novel, thanks largely to the patronage of Lu Xun, with whom she would develop a deep friendship. She was highly popular among writers and poets, who were her friends, and a host of countrymen and countrywomen, who were her fans, her reading public. She died in Hong Kong in 1942, only weeks after it fell to the Japanese.
Howard Goldblatt has translated a number of literary works from China and Taiwan, including the novels of Mo Yan, 2012 laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature. A Guggenheim fellow and awardee of several literary prizes and grants, he lives in Colorado with his wife and frequent co-translator Sylvia Lin.
Five brilliant women writers from Taiwan confront issues facing women in intensely urban environments like Taipei. These stories are profound explorations of human nature, gender manipulation and the sense of isolation that mark life in a fast-changing metropolis.
A ground-breaking collection featuring a sparkling array of stories from seven of Hong Kong and Taiwan’s leading women writers. Writing from two Chinese experiences, the authors provide a glimpse of changing attitudes and social structures in dealing with topics such as abortion, runaway wives, family and female sexuality.
These stories provide ample evidence as to why women writers hold such a prominent position in the contemporary Chinese literary world.
A valuable resource for the specialist, this volume also provides the general reader a glimpse into the lives of educated women in the 1920s and 30s in China through material seldom available in English. The women writers who tell their stories here broke boldly with tradition, taking the first steps in the formation of a new image of modern Chinese womanhood.
Janet Ng’s introduction draws comparisons with Western women’s experience while making clear the authors’ achievements in the development of modern Chinese literature. Short biographical sketches of each of the seven authors are also included.
Paper Cuts, Leung Ping Kwan’s (Ye Si) landmark work of Hong Kong literature, first appeared in 1977 and has been much read and commented upon ever since. A novel that brings into being the dizzying topography of life in the fast-moving and ever-changing city, it features arresting meditations on the nature of subjectivity, personal relationships, the media world, art and culture, and above all conveys a profound sense of the bewildering pace of change in the modern city. In a virtuoso translation by Brian Holton which does full justice to the rich style of the original, this book is a major contribution to contemporary Asian literature.
The Stories and novellas of Huang Chunming collected here, brilliantly translated by Howard Goldblatt, the pre-eminent translatorof modern Chinese literature into English, present a vivid panorama of the author’s short fiction over the past six decades. Huang, who has been from the beginning of his career something of both an artistic and social conscience of contemporary Taiwan, has always been intent upon capturing the instances and rhythms of the life of the ordinary people of Taiwan,even in the children’s literature he has devoted himself to in recent years.As a pioneer of the local style that captured the imagination of the Taiwan literary scene in the 1970s, he was perhaps the major voice in creating a new literature and culture reflecting the vibrancy of modern Taiwanese life, particularly its rural roots. He now works in his native city of Yilan, where he is the gracious proprietor of a coffee house that doubles as a venue for children’s theatrical productions.
A true story based on Wang’s experiences in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, Love in a Small Town is also the author’s personal exploration into human nature and sexuality. Written at a time when sex was still a taboo subject in China, the book’s real innovation is not its sexual explicitness, but its acknowledgement of sexual love as a powerful force in human life.
This second volume of the Love Trilogy, like the first, is based on real events the author observed during the Cultural Revolution and her days of manual labour in the countryside. Wang takes the basic facts of this tragic tale of extra-marital love and develops them into a tale of universal power.
With her rare insight and great descriptive powers, she reveals the way in which, in a restrictive society, the power of love can turn destructive.
Eileen Chang occupies a unique position in modern Chinese literature. She was a popular writer with enduring appeal, whose work has inspired successive generations. As a young woman in her mid-twenties, she wrote her most acclaimed stories in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. The popularity of these works has seen major revivals in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and since the 1980s, in the Chinese mainland where her work had been banned. When she died in 1995, she had achieved near-cult status.
Writing in 1961, Professor C.T. Hsia called Eileen Chang ‘the best and most important writer in Chinese today [whose] short stories invite valid comparisons with, and in some respects claim superiority over, the work of serious modern women writers in English’.
In a career spanning thirty years, Zhang Kangkang has published novels, novellas, short stories, memoirs and numerous essays, making her one of China’s leading contemporary writers.
A teenager at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, Zhang was caught up in the Mao’s campaign to send educated urban youth “down” to poor and remote parts of rural China. On their return to the cities in the late 1970s, many began to write about their experience, and “urban youth (zhiqing) literature” was born. Zhang became one of its leading exponents.
The theme of these stories is that of urban youth—back in the cities but no longer young—confronting their past. In these stories the reader encounters the experiences which shaped and still haunt an entire generation of Chinese.
Liu Sola refuses to deal with serious subjects seriously. Or so it seems. Her wild casual style has a rebellious ring to it and her urbanite trend-setting protagonists are particularly appealing to China’s younger generation. Behind the insistent frivolity and ephemeral tone, however, lie questions concerning the nature of art and the self-realization of the artist.
A woman of many talents, Liu Sola is a singer, composer and actress as well as a writer. She left China in 1988 and now resides abroad.
A compelling social document as well as an intensely personal account of the author’s experiences as a young woman during the Cultural Revolution. One of the first post-Cultural Revolution texts to deal openly with sex, its emotional honesty and spirited tone made it one of the most widely read and controversial works of contemporary Chinese literature.
The Renditions translation follows the original unexpurgated text.
An overseas Chinese woman confronts her past, seeking the origins of the insecurity that now besets her. The clues lead backwards, to her family and to China, to a past that is both obsession and legacy. She is now something of a foreigner even to herself—foreign culture, foreign children, foreign home.
An affecting and unusual story about the quest for identity, this is the only Renditions title originally written in English—a borrowed tongue.
Liu Xinwu has been a prominent and acerbic chronicler of Chinese society, as well as one of China’s most successful middle-aged writers. Appointed editor of People’s Literature, the journal of the Chinese Writers’ Association, in 1986, he was dismissed in 1990 due to his role as a sympathetic observer of the 1989 protests.
These stories reveal his remarkable literary versatility and also provide a fascinating insight into the tensions which have shaped Chinese society in recent decades.
Mo Yan is a native of rural Shandong, the site of his fictional Gaomi County, whose history and traditions he evoked so memorably in his novel Red Sorghum. He has been hailed as a Chinese Faulkner and a magic realist in the tradition of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but his stories also draw deeply on Chinese tradition and culture as well as on his own experience of the harsh life of China’s countryside and his time as a PLA soldier.
His often dark vision is transformed by his deep love for his land and people, his mastery of language and the sheer intensity and exuberance of his writing.
A prominent and innovative representative of the ‘root-seeking’ school of fiction writing, Han Shaogong draws on myths, folklore and religious traditions in his search for the causes of China’s cultural stagnation. An atmosphere of doubt and mystery, a lack of ready answers, pervades Han’s work—a major departure from the moralist, didactic and propaganda modes which marked Chinese literature in the recent past.
Anyone interested in China, its culture and its people will find these stories thought-provoking and profoundly moving.
Born in Yunnan province in 1954, Yu Jian has developed a unique poetic voice that has little to do with the cultural centres of Beijing and Shanghai. In 1971, during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), he came across a booklet of classical Chinese poetry hidden away in a remote village temple. This chance discovery ‘ripped the blindfold’ from his eyes and strengthened his desire to become a poet. Despite the fact that he was working as a riveter in a factory at the time, Yu managed to read widely in world literature thanks to the large volume of banned books in circulation underground. For many years he wrote in virtual isolation, but made an unexpected breakthrough in 1986 when his long, rough and tumble ‘stream of life’ poem ‘6 Shangyi Street’ appeared in China’s leading poetry journal. Since then, Yu has gone on to become one of China’s most unlikely contemporary poets, combining a down-to-earth approach with strong interests in wilderness, the loss of local and indigenous ways of life, and a Taoist-inspired mysticism of the ordinary. His numerous books of poetry include Sixty Poems (1989), Naming to a Crow (1993), Note of Anthology (2001), Anthology and Image (2003), and Only the Ocean is as Vast as a Screen (2006). To this day, he continues to live and write in Kunming. This is the first representative selection of his work to appear in English.
Xu Zhimo (1897–1931) was the best-known poet of the early period of the New Poetry in China, not only for his beautiful, melodious poetry but also his tempestuous love affairs and tragic death. He championed English Romanticism and the cultivation of the Romantic self. His introducing poems by Thomas Hardy, Keats, and Shelley and their various metrical forms, experimenting with verse forms and fusing them with his expert control of the vernacular language, combining elements of English and classical Chinese, broadening the subject matter and treatment of themes, are lasting contributions to modern Chinese poetry. The fifty poems selected here are characteristic of Xu’s style, displaying his efforts at innovation. This anthology of English translations of Xu’s poems, the first of its kind, published on the one hundred and twentieth anniversary of his birth, is a tribute to the poet and celebrates his important and pioneering position in the development of modern Chinese poetry.
One of the most original voices in 20th-century Chinese poetry, Bian Zhilin (1910-2000) was known for his modern sensibility and intense lyrical appeal. His style combines the techniques of the French Symbolist poets and English language poets T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden with the best of Chinese poetic tradition. His lifelong experimentation with the poetic form and his theoretical explorations contributed significantly toward the formal development of vernacular poetry. This unique collection, a near-complete translation of Bian’s entire corpus, puts his delicate craftsmanship centre stage.
This title was awarded the PEN USA 2007 Literary Award for Translation:
Yang Lian burst on the Chinese poetry scene in the late 1970s as a member of the Today group. The political storms of the last two decades have turned him into a writer in exile.
Yang exploits this condition of exile to probe our human and linguistic predicaments. This leads to a continuous reinvention of the poet’s self and his chosen form of expression. In Yang’s own words, he is always ‘crossing boundaries and scaling walls’.
This volume traces Yang’s poetic career from 1982 to 2001. It is the most comprehensive and representative collection of Yang’s work to date.
China’s leading woman poet, Shu Ting worked in the countryside until 1973, returning to the city to work on construction sites and in factories. In spite of all this, her firm faith in the human spirit led her to poetry. Her pure style and mature voice found a ready response among a generation shaped by the experiences of the Cultural Revolution.
The poems included in this first collection of Shu Ting’s work in English span her career, amply demonstrating her poetic gifts.
Gu Cheng was part of the group which founded the seminal non-official literary journal Today during the 1979-80 Democracy Wall movement, or ‘Beijing Spring’, of which his own work became emblematic. A major talent, his poety stands as a reminder of the quality of work produced in China in the mid-1980s, despite sporadic official attacks.
Gu Cheng left China in 1987, settling finally in New Zealand, where he continued to experiment with poetic form and content. His personal life, however, took a tragic turn, culminating in his suicide and the death of his wife in 1993.
This volume consists of the first ten chapters from the popular historical novel Dongzhou lieguo zhi, or Chronicles of the Eastern Zhou Kingdoms, by the renowned late Ming dynasty writer Feng Menglong. The stories, themselves adaptations of earlier texts, vividly recount the end of the Western Zhou and the rise of the cunning, ambitious Lord Zhuang of Zheng, the first overlord to have seized overarching power during the breakdown of order. Wise or fatuous rulers, loyal or renegade ministers, ill-fated beauties, and valiant generals take turns appearing on the stage of that chaotic yet thrilling era, their lives interwoven into this romanticized history which has been widely read for hundreds of years and will continue to attract future generations of readers.
Feng was a widely acclaimed compiler of anthologies of popular literature. His work includes collections of jokes, collections of classical-language stories and anecdotes, revised versions of novels, and the San yan collections of vernacular stories.
Erik Honobe, the translator, is Professor in the School of Global Studies at Tama University, Japan, where he teaches Chinese Literature and International Business.
Ji Xiaolan, the teller of these tales, was arguably the best read mandarin in the Chinese empire of the late eighteenth century, having edited the Descriptive Catalogue to the imperial library of the Chinese written heritage, a task that took him eight years. Since in later life he held high office and was close to the Qianlong emperor, his tales really were from the top. They conform to a well-established type of literature called biji xiaoshuo, short sketches that record remarkable episodes or events, in his case mostly to do with the supernatural. The tales were gathered from a multiplicity of informants, so reflect a wide variety of views and outlooks. Together they weave a tapestry of daily life in a semi-feudal society, with some high drama as embroidery.
Ji Xiaolan’s own take on the supernatural element ranges from healthily sceptical ot disarmingly credulous, depending on the point he wants to make or moral position to uphold. But throughout there is ample evidence of his legendary wit.
This Renditions Paperback is a companion volume to David Pollard’s Real Life in China at the Height of Empire: Revealed by the Ghosts of Ji Xiaolan, Chinese University Press, 2014.
David E. Pollard, now retired, was formerly Professor of Chinese in the University of London and Professor of Translation at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has published books and articles in the field of Chinese language, Chinese modern literature, classical and modern essays, translations of Western literature, and most recently Chinese tales of the supernatural.
A highly commended anthology of classical Chinese poetry which includes verse translations of 121 poems ranging from the Zhou (11th century BC) to the Qing dynasties. Through the sensitive and learned rendering of the translator, almost the entire range of classical Chinese poetry is represented here.
One of the most original—and controversial—figures in the history of Chinese literature, Li Yu specialized in challenging social taboos and turning traditional literary themes on their heads. The stories featured here combine the racy wit and bawdiness of the traditional oral story-teller with a very modern blend of subtlety, irony and psychological insight to create a vibrant and accessible picture of the 17th century Chinese life.
This illustrated collection is an important step in bringing the writing of Li Yu to a wider audience. Here is a compelling example of a vibrancy and insight only now being rediscovered by contemporary Chinese writers.
This collection brings together the small but profound corpus of short stories by Xubin in English translation. With a background in ecology, Xubin came as a breath of fresh air on the Hong Kong literary scene in the 1970s and 1980s. Her meticulous depiction of the mother nature and its fauna and flora, as well as her precise, fable-like language and vivid imagery, all contribute to a unique reflectiveness in her writings.