Monday, May 5, 2008

Wait, There Are Good Chinese?

Providing a nice antidote to their normally negative portrayal of the Chinese ("They're killing Buddhists!" "They're going to destroy the U.S. economy!"), Sunday's New York Times Book Review offered up a poo poo platter of articles regarding the Middle Kingdom.

I'd recommend starting out with Jonathan Spence's review of Mo Yan's Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out. The book is a look at the last fifty years of Chinese politics, and is narrated by the five animal reincarnations of a man named Ximen Nao. (Have no fear, the author realizes that this is a ridiculous literary conceit.)

Next, I'd read China's Pop Fiction, an essay by the gloriously named Aventurina King about writer Guo Jingming, a 24-year-old cross-dressing, image-obsessed pop idol whose tales of alienated urban adolescence have made him the most successful writer in China.

Also worth your time are Pankaj Mishra's review of Wolf Totem, Francine Prose's review of The Song of Everlasting Sorrow, and Liesl Schillinger's look at Yan Lianke's Serve The People!

And now, back to the NYTimes' regular international news reporting.