The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature

Edited by Yunte Huang. Norton, $39.95 (752p) ISBN 978-0-393-23948-5
Guggenheim fellow and Edgar Award–winning author Huang (Charlie Chan) edits and does much of the translation in this superb and suitably massive compendium of Chinese literature that stretches from the downfall of the Qing dynasty in 1912 to the present. In his introduction, Huang calls this a "search for the soul of modern China." That search takes readers from the sometimes giddy works of the republican era through the constrained literature of Maoist times to the broad range of styles in the post-Mao period. Among the many novel excerpts are selections from Nobel laureate Mo Yan's Red Sorghum, full of vibrant colors, odors, sounds, and action, and from Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian's thoughtful Soul Mountain. Shorter works appear in abundance as well, with pieces from Lu Xun opening the collection, including "A Madman's Diary," his disturbing allegorical critique of traditional Chinese society. Poetry abounds, ranging from the very brief "mini poems" of Bing Xin to Yang Lian's longer magical verselike poem Norlang, about a male Tibetan deity. While the republican and post-Mao eras receive the lion's share of this collection's pages, the revolutionary era is well represented, by poetry from Mao Zedong himself and selections from the opera The Red Lantern. Huang does not neglect nonfiction works: the book includes Lin Juemin's "Last Letter to His Wife" and even Zhou Zuoren's "Reading in the Lavatory." A treasure trove for any reader interested in Chinese literature. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/2016
Release date: 02/01/2016
Open Ebook - 752 pages - 978-0-393-24873-9
Paperback - 624 pages - 978-0-393-35380-8
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