The 1980s was a period of rapid change and economic growth for China. In 1979, paramount leader Deng Xiaoping opened special economic zones in southern China, experimenting with market capitalism. Dori Jones Yang, a reporter for BusinessWeek, saw China’s rise in the 1980s and has recorded it for her memoir When The Red Gates Opened.
The Girl Who Played Go is a historical novel by Chinese author Shan Sa, originally published in French, and translated into English. With that many international filters, it is surprising how well it evokes the Chinese mindset, but also, the Japanese side as well.
October 1937. Surrounded by an enormous Japanese Army, Chinese soldiers hunker down for a siege. Their fortress is the Sihang Warehouse, tall and sturdy, standing on the banks of Soochow Creek. For seven days, they beat off numerous attempts to storm their position. Historian Stephen Robinson recreates and documents these events in Eight Hundred Heroes.
Shanghai between the world wars is a fascination of Westerns, the Chinese themselves, but also the Japanese. The zeitgeist of 1920s Shanghai is reflected in the appropriately named Shanghai by Riichi Yokomitsu.
[Read more…] about Shanghai by Riichi Yokomitsu – a Japanese Novel of Interwar Shanghai
The Cultural Revolution has been a taboo subject in China, but confusing and forgotten to Westerners. The political upheavals instigated by Mao Zedong between 1966-1976 were baffling to those who observed and participated. Mao ostensibly sought to create a new, permanent revolutionary China, doing away with old ideas, old customs, and old culture, but his main aim was to purge all political rivals and enshrine himself as a godlike figure, which somewhat continues to this day. It is during this tumultuous era, that the novel Serve the People! by Yan Lianke takes place.
Chinese history has long been ignored in the West, but a few spotlights do shine out from time to time on certain events, even if only to provide superficial understanding. These usually point to the Opium Wars, the Boxer Rebellion, and, recently, the Sino-Japanese War. However, there is a small window of time in Chinese history that contained multiple smaller wars, which has almost been completely ignored by Western scholars. This brief era is what The Bitter Peace – Conflict in China 1928-37 by Philip S. Jowett illuminates.
World War II has been cemented of the national consciousness as a “good war” in the Allied nations – America, Britain, Russia – for decades now. However, the fourth major partner of the Allies – China – has only recently embraced this narrative and until fairly recently, even downplayed its importance. This shift is the crux of Rana Mitter’s new book China Good War. [Read more…] about China’s Good War by Rana Mitter Review
Shanghai, 1935 – a Japanese sailor is gunned down in the busy streets, escalating tensions between China and Japan. Doug Bainbridge, an officer in the ONI – the US Office of Naval Intelligence – is tasked to investigate. Joined by his friends, Doug is sucked into a whirlwind of intrigue, double-dealing, and espionage.
Opium dens, seedy bars, and exotic jungles – all tropes associated with pulp fiction, specifically the yellow peril subgenre, which writer Richard Jaccoma uses in his appropriately named 1978 novel, Yellow Peril – The Adventures of Sir John Weymouth-Smythe.
In 1928 Shanghai, a Chinese family named the Lees is brutally murdered while a disabled girl watches in horror, before falling victim herself. It’s up to Inspector Danilov and his sidekick Strachan to unravel this bizarre mystery. [Read more…] about City of Shadows Review & MJ Lee Interview