Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Find your fix: Portals to new Asian poetry in 2021

Every literary community depends on a constellation of magazines, blogs, journals and reviews that help bring writers closer to their readers. Beyond providing unpublished authors with feedback and recognition, they spark conversations about and around books, fostering thoughtful engagement with writers and their work. In recent years, we’ve welcomed a plethora of outlets that publish and engage with new voices from across the wider ‘Asian’ community. What better way to start 2021 than with a quick survey of these up-and-coming platforms?

With some exceptions, I’ll be focusing on publications that have launched within the last five years, and publish new poetry – though almost all of them also publish fantastic work in other genres. Of course, we shouldn’t forget stalwarts like the Hong Kong-based Cha, which just last year published a powerful retrospective on ‘Tiananmen Thirty Years On’; or Vancouver-based Ricepaper, which began in 1994 as a newsletter at the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop. The following titles simply represent the latest sampling of new publishing initiatives that deserve a wider audience.  


Some of the publications featured below

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

LI JUAN. Nicky Harman on a writer of many hues

I first came across Li Juan in 2016, when she featured in the Paper Republic post for LitHub online magazine, entitled ‘Ten Chinese Women whose Works should be Translated’. Serendipitously, two of her autobiographical accounts of life in Xinjiang have come out in translation within a week of each other:

Winter Pasture, translated by Jack Hargreaves and Yan Yan (Astra Books, 2021); and 

Distant Sunflower Fields, translated by Christopher Payne (Sinoist Books, 2021)

Winter Pasture

Li Juan is a Han Chinese, born in Xinjiang and brought up in her parents’ hometown in Sichuan. Thereafter she moved back to wide, open spaces of Xinjiang and made it her home. The ideal person to spend a winter living with a nomadic Kazakh family in China’s Altai region, and then write a book about it, one would think. But from the start, the journey (made in 2010) which is the subject of this book, is not a simple endeavour. She struggles to find a host family who will take her along. Firstly, the Kazakhs regard her as an oddity: she is much too old to be unmarried and and does not do what they regard as work. Then there is the language barrier: she makes some attempt to improve her grasp of the Kazakh language, but has about as little success as they do with speaking Chinese. Some younger nomad couples are bilingual but, she tells us wryly, she is wary of sharing a cramped winter home with a pair of young lovebirds.

Li Juan is disarmingly self-deprecating, and that is part of the charm of this book. She reveals how hard she found it to endure the sub-zero temperatures and conditions so spartan that the only water to be had is snow-melt. Chinese female travellers have until recently been a rarity, and Li Juan has often been compared to a famous predecessor, Sanmao, whose wanderings in the 1970s have just appeared in English as Tales of the Sahara. The comparison seems to me highly ironic: Sanmao was writing about a truly foreign country, the Western Sahara. Xinjiang is part of the People’s Republic of China (although the nomadic way of life is a world away from the China inhabited by most Han Chinese). Sanmao was a born wanderer, Li Juan, by contrast, declares herself a reluctant traveller who much prefers to stay home. But perhaps they do have something in common: both women settled into communities where they are outsiders looking in. No one is more keenly aware of this than Li Juan. She admires the Chinese Kazakh writer Yerkex Hurmanbek who, she says: ‘taught me that I am a Han Chinese describing an alien environment, and no matter how close I am, I’ll always be a bystander because I’m not the same as them.’

During this winter trip, her hosts and their way of life continue to puzzle her. On one occasion, she is caught by strangers with her pants down – literally – while mending a rip in them. ‘What happens when these people who just barge into people’s homes encounter an even more awkward scene?’ she muses.

Li Juan is not just an outsider to the Kazakhs. She remains on the margins of the Chinese literary scene, seldom leaving her home to join the festival or speaking circuit. She has considerable standing among her contemporaries, however. The eminent writer Wang Anyi comments: ‘Her writing is instantly recognizable. It inhabits a world which is vast and lonely, and where time is endless. Humans have become tiny things that occur almost incidentally.’

Still, those tiny humans are subjected to close scrutiny. Her host, Cuma, drinks too much and is a bully, but Li Juan respects his intelligence. Ironically, it transpires that as she spends her time observing him and trying to work him out, he is doing the same with her: It was because he assumed that the only reason I had come to the winter pasture was to learn to herd.’  He is astonished at her apparent contentment where he is bored and frustrated. ‘Always walking here and there, what are you doing?’ ‘Playing.’ ‘How is walking here and there playing?’ ‘I’m playing a game of “walking here and there”. Unable to understand, he simply smirked.’

Li Juan is modest about her literary ambitions. Largely self-taught (her family could not afford to send her to university), she is frank about why she began to write:  ‘It was the only thing I was good at. You have to earn a living somehow.’ The editor and arts curator Ou Ning, in an extended interview with Li Juan, describes her writing as ‘genuine and sincere.’ She does not disagree, in fact she adds: ‘Hurmanbek gets it absolutely right in her writings … she’s taught me the importance of honesty and genuineness.’

I do not doubt that Li Juan is sincere but it is a sophisticated kind of sincerity. Her writing comes in many hues – she moves deftly from the lyrical to tongue-in-cheek humour to sheer joy. She is always sharply observant, and she can occasionally be tender.

Here she writes about the power of the landscape: ‘Clouds metamorphosed before our eyes, drifting from east to west. The endless sky, the boundless earth, left us speechless. Compared to the sense of loneliness the moment conjured, our weariness seemed trivial.’

Here, a deadpan description of the delights of food: ‘The only thing on my mind is that day-old, half-golden, half-tan piece of nan sitting alone on the kitchen counter. That is my one and only! That is my rock-solid truth, the thing that keeps me pondering, even in my sleep—why hasn’t it been eaten yet? Give it another day, it’ll get even harder! …If, when you reach for a piece of nan, you happen to pick one that is only two days old (the rest are all three days old!), it’s even more exciting than winning five bucks at the lottery.’ By this time we, the readers, have shared with her the harshness of life outside their burrow-home, so we understand perfectly the intense sensations of mealtimes.

And here is a poignant vignette: ‘Inside the dark burrow, a single shaft of light beamed through the only window. The sight of Rahmethan planting little kisses on the baby’s bottom; the sight of brother and sister discussing the changing of the baby’s diaper; son holding on to father as he cuts strips of cowhide, the two slipping in and out of song together; the little girl Nurgün squatting with dripping-wet hair beside the stove, washing clothes . . . these scenes moved me immensely. But I didn’t dare to photograph them for fear of disturbing them.’

Jack Hargreaves and Yan Yan have written an exemplary Translators’ Foreword, giving background information and locating the journey. They have also done a fine job of rendering Li Juan’s many voices into English, the meditative, the humorous, and the unflinching and matter-of-fact. In Winter Pasture, Li Juan has written something more engrossing and more thought-provoking than a simple travelogue. Between them, author and translators have given us a fascinating read.

Distant Sunflower Fields, translated by Christopher Payne (Sinoist Books, 2021)

This is an account of a season Li Juan spends farming with her mother and stepfather, two years before she travels with the Kazakhs. As it opens, she is looking after her grandmother until the doughty old woman dies at 96; after which, she returns home to help with a new project, growing sunflowers. As in Winter Pasture, Li Juan is droll, unsentimental, clear-eyed and occasionally painfully introspective. Also happily unmarried, something the neighbours never get used to.  She writes engagingly about the work (back-breaking) and daily life (spartan), as well their skirmishes with pests, pets and rival farmers, but it is her portraits of the three women (author, mother and grandmother) and their relationships that I found most impressive.

If anything, Sunflowers has even less of a narrative thread and context than Winter Pasture. We only discover the year, 2008, halfway through, and we are almost at the end of the book before Li Juan tells us that her mother speaks Kazakh and, in a rare leisure moment, gleans some spicy gossip from the local women. She gives almost no background information about how and when these impoverished Han Chinese families moved to Xinjiang and how their lives are interwoven with those of the nomadic Kazakhs, industrial workers, and government functionaries. We are simply there, seeing Li Juan’s life in close-up, so to speak. So everything depends on her ability to draw us in, to immerse us in her life and her feelings.

And we are drawn in. There is her pain: Li Juan is distressed about her inability to settle (‘I’m an expert at leaving,’ she writes) and about her difficulties in communicating with her mother. There is her bitterness about the despoiling of the land, ‘I have seen dead land. I mean, really dead – the surface was hard and blanched white. [The fields] were filled with the dead and decaying corpses of so many sunflower seeds from so many years before. The unrelenting sun had bleached them as well. I figured this was on account of the overuse of fertilisers, the unre­liable irrigation, the alkalisation of the soil, the overextension of lost and abandoned land.’

She draws us in with her humour, too. Li Juan’s mother is quite a character: she’s a biker who is as happy off-road as on tarmac; she rescues some almost naked hens and sews costumes to keep them from freezing until their feathers grow back; oh, and how could I forget this – she actually does the farm work naked because it is so hot in summer.

More than that, Sunflowers is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. I was particularly taken with their guard-dog who is an incorrigible shoe thief. Once people began to realise that Chouchou was responsible for their missing footwear, we'd have visitors every few days, notice­ably barefoot, in search of their shoes. We'd direct them to the pile in the back and then they'd begin sifting through as though they were at some police station with a lost-and-found box in front of them. Chouchou would never be far off either. Usually, he'd watch them look for the shoes, basking in the sunlight, wagging his tail as they did so, assuming a posture of feigned indifference. Not only did Chouchou enjoy pilfering other peoples’ shoes and bringing them home with him, he was also quite fond of taking our shoes and depositing them at our neighbours’ places. It was a rather perplexing hobby to say the least.’

I was relieved to read that by the end of their season’s hard labour, the family have harvested twenty tonnes of sunflower seeds. As they wait for the bags of seeds to be collected, Li Juan describes a scene of rare tranquility, ‘The final bit of work in the sunflower fields had ended, and now all we had to do was wait for the day they were to be sold. Since there was nothing else to do, each evening after dinner, the whole family would go out for a walk. And I do mean everyone – the cat, Saihu [dog], even the braver rabbits would accompany us. Chou­chou, too, who always loved joining in the fun, wouldn’t miss out either, although his fear of the cat kept him some distance behind. There were also some chickens who tagged along, those that hadn't already settled down in their coop for the night. At first, there'd be a few, but they’d gradually turn and head back. Chickens, after all, had a hard time seeing in the dark…Mum would turn and pick up the few that still remained and carry them in her arms.’

 

Saturday, 16 January 2021

The Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2021 — Winners Boey Meihan and Sebastian Sim Announced



Joining the exalted ranks of past winners such as O Thiam Chin, Nuraliah Norasid and Yeoh Jo-Ann, are the just-announced joint winners of the 2021 Epigram Books Fiction Prize, the ceremony for which took place on the evening of January 16 and for the first time virtually (with a dinner set meal delivery service by Conrad Centennial) because of circuit breaker restrictions: Boey Meihan (Singapore) for The Formidable Miss Cassidy and Sebastian Sim (Singapore) for And The Award Goes to Sally Bong, each winner taking home $15,000 in cash prize and whose books will be published by Epigram Books in the second half of 2021.  

Boey Meihan is the author of the sci-fi romp The Messiah Virus (Math Paper Press, 2019) and also the Vice-President of The Association of Comic Artists in Singapore. The Formidable Miss Cassidy is about a ladies' companion who arrived in Singapore in the late 19th century to a household infested with pontianak and momoks and other supernaturals. Sebastian Sim is no stranger to the Epigram Books Fiction Prize, having won it in 2017 for The Riot Act and shortlisted in the inaugural rendition of the Prize with Let's Give It Up For Gimme Lao. His winning novel And The Award Goes To Sally Bong is about a non-achiever born two years after Singapore Independence, a counterpart to the super-achiever Gimme Lao. Sim has previously published wuxia novels in Chinese, and has worked a variety of interesting jobs, from being a prison officer to being a croupier in a casino.  





For the first time last year in 2020, Epigram Books opened up the Prize to encompass the Southeast Asian region and young writer Joshua Kam took home the $25,000 Prize for his debut novel How The Man In Green  Saved Pahang, and Possibly The World. This year was once again open to regional entries and judge Gareth Richards mentioned that 57 manuscripts were in contention for the Prize, making the judges' work of selecting one winner a difficult one. The other four shortlisted writers comprised Wesley Leon Aroozoo (Singapore), Pallavi Gopinath Aney (Singapore), Daryl Qiyin Yam (Singapore) and H.Y. Yeang (Malaysia), and all also received $5000 each in monetary award and will see their novels to publication in the latter half of 2021. The judges' panel comprised filmmaker Wahyuni Hadi, popular children's series Danger Dan author Monica Lim, Gerakbudaya owner Gareth Richards, NTU Associate Professor of English Dr. Sim Wai Chew, and Founder and CEO of Epigram Edmund Wee. The judges individually made comments about the quality of the submissions, with Hadi specifically commending the shortlisted novels for their depth of research, willingness to push boundaries and for being 'authentic to who the writer is'. Richards detailed the judging process in more granular detail, explaining some of the criteria for consideration such as originality and style, use of language, plot, characterisation and creativity, as well as more commercial considerations: does the novel speak to a potential audience, and is it a strong narrative or page-turner, saying that "there was a consensus about some of the offerings but by no means all." 

Edmund Wee remarked that last year had been 'miserable' for Epigram, with the closing of its e-business localbooks.sg, all its titles moving to Epigram Bookshop, its new online outlet, as well as its recent announcement of the closure of its sister operations in London, UK, and 2021 will be a challenge.  But he stated that he was happy the Prize could be held, and in fact, prize moneys were increased this year due to the cancellation of the physical event and dinner. 

We congratulate the winners of the 2021 Epigram Books Fiction Prize and all the shortlisted nominees. 





Thursday, 31 December 2020

'Cross Over To Me': Our favourite Asian poetry from 2020!

At so many uncertain points over the past year, I've found myself turning to poetry for its uncanny ability to cut through the chaos of the moment. So many friends too (both writers and readers), have told me of how poetry has afforded them words of comfort or moral clarity amid the chaos of 2020. To round up the year at the Asian Books Blog, we asked four poets from around the world to share their personal picks for the 'Best Asian Poetry from 2020': resonant voices from a difficult year, that will carry us forward into 2021.  

– Theophilus Kwek


Mary Jean Chan: 


I have a lot of admiration for Will Harris’s RENDANG (Granta Books / Wesleyan University Press), which won the 2020 Forward Prize in the Best First Collection category. This is a debut that is by turns philosophical, contemplative and revelatory, and which rewards re-reading. One of my favourite poetic sequences in this collection is “The white jumper”, which reflects on a dream in which a white jumper recurs, touching on themes as varied as video games, race, Nietzsche and of course, the colour white:

13.

Lid and lip are little words. Little
things, too. The short i associated with
lightness and pith.

“The pith of my system,” said Coleridge,
“is to make the senses out of the mind
– not the mind of the senses.”

The mind’s white
  rind, not the white
    rind’s mind.

21.

Friedrich Nietzsche recounts a dream:

Once the distance between us was so small
you could have crossed over to me
by footbridge. 

            Cross it, I said to you.
Cross over to me.
            But you didn’t want to. 

And when I asked again, you were silent.

Now mountains and rivers have come
between us, and at the mention
of the footbridge you cry.

                                             (from “The white jumper”)

Mary Jean Chan is the author of Flèche, published by Faber & Faber (2019). Flèche won the 2019 Costa Book Award for Poetry and was a Book of the Year in The Guardian, The Irish Times and The White Review. In 2020, Flèche was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. Chan is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University.


ko ko thett:

How does one reconcile contemporary American poetry with the pre-Buddhist nat cult of Myanmar? The answer is Storage Unit for the Sprit House by Maw Shein Win (Omnidawn). In this exciting new collection of nat-themed poems, interspaced with ink illustrations by Mark Dutcher, Maw Shein Win goes back to her ancestral home, at least, in spirit. Her poems traverse between tangible spaces (Inya Lake, El Cerrito) and intangible spaces (the realms of nats) , between memories (as a child, I did not climb trees) and lived experiences (a detachment of hips, Jimi Hendrix Experience!). 

I suspect the poet has been to Myanmar in the flesh, and yet, lines such as “childhood / a burning kingdom / slap clap // pearl lantern /  bruised hands / clung to rowboat” mean that her Burmeseness is not short-changed. Maw Shein Win is a poet who “often collaborates with visual artists, musicians and other writers”, and her visual imagery in this lovely collection continues to delight me. 

There is a genre of traditional Burmese poetry called natchin, songs dedicated to nats. I am happy to pick this collection of American natchins, which has already gathered some critical acclaim and appeared on PEN longlist, as my favourite for 2020.

ko ko thett is a Burma-born poet, poetry translator and poetry editor for Mekong Review. He lives in Norwich, UK, and writes in both Burmese and English. 


Melizarani T. Selva: 

Hands down, the most powerful poetic energy I witnessed this year came from Kuala Lumpur’s homegrown livestream poetry fundraiser, If Walls Could Talk - Fever Dream Edition. On April 9, during Malaysia’s Movement Control Order, 21 poets from 7 countries, namely Australia, India, Philippines, Singapore, Syria, USA and all over Malaysia, embraced the virtual stage to raise funds for 600 refugee families. Within 3 hours of non-stop poetry readings, RM7,890 was raised for the purchase of groceries and basic needs. 

Having run ‘Walls’ for more than 3 years, my teammates Afi Noor, Daniel Cerventus Lim, Lily Jamaludin and I are still in absolute awe of the poets’ tenacity to pivot their poems and presence online in spite of timezones and irregular internet connectivity. Nothing could stop them from crafting the most wholesome multi-lingual pandemic-y poetry performances. We were also amazed by the roaring kindness of 1,100 strong live global audience who offered generous applause, ringgits and even a word/sentence to complete a social distance inspired ensemble poem, prompted by the phrase ‘Though I am not with you, I am…”. Some of our favourite moments were captured within the verses of Takahara Suiko, Bani Haykal and Ila and Omar Musa. If 2020 could be truthfully summed up in a poetry anthology, this would be it. 

Watch the show here

Melizarani T.Selva is a spoken word poet and author of the poetry collection ‘Taboo’. She co-founded If Walls Could Talk - Poetry Open Mic and co-published an anthology of 100 poems by 61 poets from Malaysia titled ‘When I Say Spoken, You Say Word!


Marylyn Tan:

My pick for best Asian poetry of 2020 is Mok Zining’s The Orchid Folios (Ethos Books). With a voice both cutting and considered in its articulation, Mok intertwines technical floristry with lyric sentiment, then wields it to pry at questions of language, society and the body. Mapping personal disparagements and devastations onto a painstakingly researched, multitextual geography, she reveals a Singapore narrative as engineered as a commercial orchid. I particularly love how she uses the storied history of the Vanda Miss Joaquim, and its questions of who gets to claim ownership, conquest and discovery, as the fulcrum upon which her practice of docupoetics turns, in turn investigating and splicing side-by-side (de-)colonial concepts and emotional intimacies. 

I feel I must also mention two other poems/poets that have stuck with me: Darlene Silva Soberano’s 'The Weekend', whose queer poetics make me 17 and nervous to touch the first lesbian I’ve ever encountered in the wild again. The gay-ass yearning and singular intimacy of ‘after you leave i keep looking over / to see if maybe you’re still here’ is a feeling I guess I’ve been chasing over and over in a time where everything feels so fever-same and the sanest thing I can do is write myself out of it. There is also Innas Tsuroiya, whose gorgeous poem Your Name Means Garden holds the lines “There is a story of faith somewhere, like / magnificent clash. What if what remains / was only a door for departure not for / returning. What if there could be both but / after you molder the globe." which speak to me, personally—a line of inquiry that interrogates g*d and departures is something I’ve been wrestling with, in particular, this entire harrowing year. 

Marylyn Tan is a poet and artist. She aims to build community and emancipate the endangered body. Her first title, GAZE BACK (SLP 2020; Lambda loser), is the trans-genre lesbo witch grimoire you never knew you needed. Find her @marylyn.orificial on Instagram. 



Wednesday, 16 December 2020

A round-up of new fiction for the young in age, and the young at heart

 

Nicky Harman reviews three books for young readers translated from Chinese

..............................................

I have to confess that I am an absolute sucker for young adult novels. Given half a chance, I devour them. So I was excited to be given the opportunity to read and review the latest Cao Wenxuan novel, and decided to add two of my own by different authors.

Dragonfly Eyes




 

Cao Wenxuan is easily the most-translated Chinese writer for young readers, and he and Helen Wang, his translator, have won major awards. (Cao Wenxuan, the Hans Christian Andersen Award 2016; Helen Wang, the Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation 2017 for her translation of Bronze and Sunflower.)

 With Dragonfly Eyes, Cao and Wang have given us a substantial read (384 pages in paperback), pitched at 12+ years. This is a family saga spanning fifty years and three generations, which takes the reader from 1930s France where Ah-Mei's grandparents, Nainai and Yeye, met and fell in love, to poverty-stricken post-war Shanghai and the turbulent decades that followed in China. Ah-Mei and her French grandmother, Nainai, share a rare bond – Ah-Mei is the only granddaughter, and takes after her Nainai in looks too. Times are hard in Shanghai – money and food is in short supply ­– but she has loving parents, cousins, uncles and aunties, as well as Nainai and Yeye, and the family is resilient.

Cao Wenxuan has a lush, lyrical style which is beautifully translated by Helen Wang (anyone who has read Bronze and Sunflower will know what I mean) and I was lulled by the sweetness of the beginning into thinking that it was really intended for younger readers. But with the 1960s, life gets darker and more complex for Ah-Mei: society disintegrates around the family, Nainai is attacked simply for being foreign, and the story ends with what might be a natural death or might be suicide. Enthralling.

Dragonfly Eyes by Cao Wenxuan, translated by Helen Wang (Walker Books, January 2021)

 White Horse 


I was delighted when my translation of White Horse, a novella by Chinese writer Yan Ge, made it onto the short-list of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation 2020. It was in serious company: Tove Jansson and Natalia Ginzburg were also on the short-list, chosen from 132 entries in 34 languages, but White Horse is a book that can hold its own. As the judges said, ‘[This novella] portrays adolescence as heartachingly-recognizable the world over. Translated with charm and wit by the outstanding Nicky Harman.’

White Horse is about Yun Yun, a young girl growing up in a small West China town. Her mother has died in mysterious circumstances, but she lives happily enough with her father, aunt and uncle and older cousin Qing. Until her once-secure world falls apart, that is. Her cousin, who is a couple of years older than her, gets a boyfriend and clashes with her repressive parents, and Yun Yun is inevitably affected by the ensuing rows. Gradually, terrible family secrets are revealed, and Yun Yun is left isolated and alone as the adults, and her cousin, struggle to live with them.  It takes a while before we learn about Yun Yun’s mother (and I’m not going to spoil the plot here) but in the meantime, Yun Yun finds relief from the stresses and strains of growing up in this toxic atmosphere: she starts seeing a white horse. Is the white horse a friend? Is it a sign of something much more sinister? It’s certainly a fantasy, liable to pop up when Yun Yun is feeling at her most vulnerable and abandoned. 

This story is funny as well as spooky. It’s pitched as a teen novel, but don’t let that put you off if you’re a teen-plus. It’s creepy, and it gets under your skin, and it’s worth reading slowly, because some of the clues that the author drops are very subtle. Give them time to sink in.

White Horse by Yan Ge, translated by Nicky Harman (Hope Road, 2019)

 I Want to be Good


 

Huang Beijia is another writer who is famous for her books for young readers. I’ve translated two of her novels, I Want to be Good, and Flight of the Bumblebee (forthcoming) and I’m struck by the differences. Flight of the Bumblebee is a wartime novel, while I Want to be Good is contemporary and deals with that bugbear of Chinese children and their parents – school exams. You think that doesn’t sound like a racy read? Think again. It’s a mark of Huang’s skill as a writer that she creates two great characters, Ling and her put-upon mother, who, when they’re not struggling with her maths marks, live life to the full. Ling is an average sort of kid: cheerful, kind, brave when she needs to be, good at writing stories, but hopeless at maths. Her mother is an unexpected heroine: she had ambitions of her own as a young woman, but had to ditch them when her husband gets a demanding job. She tries so hard to support her daughter but she’s anything but a Tiger Mum.

 Ling and her friends get ready for their middle school entrance exam in their last year at elementary school, and the pressure piles on.  We share Ling’s adventures and misadventures, enjoy her small triumphs, and despair with her over her test marks. Then, just before the exams, something really special happens to Ling, something she is determined to keep a close secret. As the school year comes to an end, Ling has learnt a lot about life, and herself, and is ready to face the next stage of growing up.

I Want to be Good by Huang Beijia, translated by Nicky Harman (GDB Books, Delhi, India. https://www.amazon.in/dp/9384401528/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_IZd8FbAK90NA5. A UK edition is also forthcoming in January 2021.) Ages: 10+

 For more information on translated Chinese fiction for young readers, see Chinese books for young readers.