Showing posts with label history of China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history of China. Show all posts

Friday, 6 August 2021

Serve the People! by Yan Lianke - A Novel of the Chinese Cultural Revolution

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.


Monday, 5 July 2021

The China Mission by Daniel Kurtz-Phelan - Chinese History at a Crossroads

The question of “Who Lost China to the Communists?” became a political flashpoint in American politics. It gave rise to the McCarthy Era and in some aspects, it still lingers in Western discourse to this day. How and why China descended into full-scale civil war is what The China Mission by Daniel Kurtz-Phelan sets out to answer.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa

The Girl Who Played Go is a historical novel by Chinese author Shan Sa, originally published in French, 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.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

When the Red Gates Opened: A Memoir of China's Reawakening

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.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Japan's Asian Allies - A Look at the Collaborationist Regimes of World War II


Compared to Nazi Germany, the Japanese Empire during World War II receives little to no coverage in Western media. Even more obscure, are the many puppet regimes that aided the Japanese occupation throughout Asia, spanning from the far north in Manchuria to the south in Burma and the Philippines. Luckily, Osprey publishing has come to the rescue with their newest edition to the Men At Arms series titled Japan’s Asian Allies 1941 – 45.


Sunday, 5 July 2020

The Bitter Peace by Philip S. Jowett - Conflict in China 1928-1937


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.


Monday, 2 March 2020

Indie Spotlight: Qing Dynasty inspires Time Travel Duology

This month on Indie Spotlight, Bijou Li tells us about the inspirations behind her time travel novels which she has self-published on Amazon. Over to Bijou...

I became interested in the dramatic historical event, Nine Sons Competing for the Throne (九子夺嫡) when my sister recommended the online novel Scarlet Heart (步步惊心) to me back in 2010. I also watched the TV drama series right after I finished reading the book. Aside from the history, what the story fascinated me the most was the main character’s “prescience” of the fate of each person she interacts with while living in the 18th century.

I liked the story so much that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for months afterward, and I told my sister I would like to write a book about how the fourteenth prince traveled back in time to change the fates of him and his brothers. She didn’t take me seriously, and neither did I. But years later, I watched another TV series Palace (宫锁心玉)and my ambition sparked again. I sat down and wrote a few chapters, got stuck, and put it aside until 2018, a year after I self-published my first book on Amazon. By then, I had read a lot more popular time-travel books both in Chinese and English, and come up with a plot way more intriguing than I initially had in mind.

The plot of the story is based on the conjecture that Emperor Yongzheng, the fourth son of Kangxi, seized the throne from the intended heir, which was the fourteenth prince. The most popular theory is that Yongzheng added a stroke to the emperor’s will, thus changing the phrase “the fourteenth prince shall succeed the throne” into “the fourth prince shall succeed the throne.” It is perhaps just a rumor, but it certainly provides fodder for the imagination of fiction writers like me.

The most enjoyable part of writing the story to me is learning about the ancient culture of China. The discovery of the origin of card games, different ways of gluing rice paper on the lattice windows, how ice was stored throughout the year in the Forbidden City, etc. all broadened my mind. During my research on the Qing Dynasty, I also came across many fascinating characters that I couldn’t help but include them in the story, and it was a reason for the plot getting more complicated and the story getting longer. I found myself spending a lot more time browsing the internet than writing, which was the main reason it took me so long to finish the books.

I was born in China, and I went to college in the U.S. My dream of becoming a writer started when I majored in English. I’m grateful for the self-publishing opportunities made possible by Amazon. Knowing my books are being read daily by people from all over the world is a rewarding experience. I’ve also gotten to know many other aspiring writers who are passionate about writing and sharing their stories with Asian themes.

Please see Bijou's Amazon author page at this link


Friday, 13 September 2019

Guest post: Jonathan Chatwin


Jonathan Chatwin writes on travel, culture and history with a particular focus on China. His first book, Anywhere Out of the World, was a literary biography of the travel writer and novelist Bruce Chatwin. His essays and articles have been published by the British Film Institute, the South China Morning Post, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Caixin, Studies in Travel Writing and the Asian Review of Books amongst others, and he now writes regularly on Chinese history and culture for a range of publications.

Jonathan's new book, Long Peace Street, intertwines travel and history to tell the story along the so-called Number One Street of China, Chang'an Jie, or the eponymous Long Peace Street, which bisects China's capital, Beijing, and which he walked from end to end.

Here, Jonathan introduces both his book and the street, and explains what inspired his walk.