Book Recommendations From Ma Jian

Exiled Chinese author Ma Jian, whose newest novel The Dark Road saw its North American release yesterday, gave a very personal interview to the Daily Beast. The interview touches on everything from the painter-turned-author’s youth during the Cultural Revolution, to the standing government ban on his works following the 1986 release of his novella Stick Out Your Tongue (亮出你的舌苔或空空荡荡), to his work providing an avenue for China-banned works to be published, to his writing routine. Also included in the interview are three book recommendations for his readers:

Please recommend three books by Chinese authors that your readers might enjoy, but might not know about, and tell us why you like them.

Strange Tales of Liaozhai, by the Qing Dynasty author Pu Songling. Wonderful supernatural stories in which the ghosts, demons and fox spirits are kinder and more humane than the human characters.

China 1957, by You Fengwei. A powerful novel describing Mao’s persecution of China’s intellectuals

Border Town, by Shen Congwen—a beautiful evocation of rural China in the 1930s. [Source]

His latest novel is inspired by China’s 30-year running one-child policy, which the author describes as a “barbaric experiment in social engineering.” See recent reviews of The Dark Road from the New York Times, the Washington Post, or an earlier CDT roundup including Ma’s thoughts on censorship.


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