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  • 3 weeks later...

I am re-reading Jane Austen's "Persuasion". :roll:

Acutally I have been looking for a book called 大清織造, which I have heard is about disproving 曹霑 being the author of 紅樓夢. There seems to be no way to buy a copy in HK. Not available in local libraries and not even yesasia carries it. Sign.

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  • 2 weeks later...

No. Sorry I didn't make it clear. From what I have heard, the novel says something like the real author was Xueqin's uncle Cao Fu (曹頫), judging from their age, background, etc. Xueqin was like an editor / coordinator. I still have not managed to get a copy of the book.

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Recently I've picked up not one, but two extremely good books.

"On Gold Mountain", by Lisa See, is the epic tale of four generations of Chinese-Americans told by their "Caucasian" descendant. I've never even been to the US, and know very little about the history of Chinese Americans, yet I'm finding this book to be both exhilarating and deeply moving, and I've devoured 200 pages in three hours. You don't have to be American, Chinese, both or anything other than human, in fact, to relate to the characters in this book.

“乡土中国” (From the Soil), by 费孝通 (Fei Xiaotong), is a concise, well-written and well-argued essay on the characteristics of Chinese society, by one of China's most brilliant social scientists. One of the themes of the book is that you can understand today's China (its power structures, its kinship system, the role of the "foreigner" etc.) only by understanding traditional rural society. I'm halfway through it, but I think those business men and women that are thinking of coming here would be much better off reading this than the "Art of War".

Both books are available in English through Amazon, and you can find the Chinese version of "From the soil" on the net for free, just a google away.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw a glossary for 棋王 at Caves Bookstore about a year ago, but haven't seen it since then. Are you using a glossary? If so, where did you get it? Is the story interesting? I've read the comics qi2ling2wang2(also called qi2 hun2), and although I know there's no connection, I thought 棋王 might be interesting too.

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I'm not using a glossary, and up till now I haven't needed a dictionary either. The story is interesting enough, I think, it's about a guy who meets a boy that might be able to tell the future. Whether he really can I don't know yet, haven't read that far, but considering the fact that the main character 玩股票 would make that quite convenient.

What I also like a lot about the book is that it's set in Taipei, so people take a cab to Yonghe, drink doujiang, almost hit a scooter, all things I see around me so I think that's quite fun.

Book is easy to read, lots of dialogue, lot of kouyu.

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  • 3 weeks later...
“乡土中国” (From the Soil), by 费孝通 (Fei Xiaotong), is a concise, well-written and well-argued essay on the characteristics of Chinese society, by one of China's most brilliant social scientists.

I’ve read this now, found it very interesting and well-written. I had trouble following the arguments in parts, partly because I read it in bits over the course of a month or so, and also because at points it brings in a fair amount of classical Chinese which I have no experience of, so I’m going over it a second time now.

Also reading 活着 at the moment – enjoying this, and finding it quite easy to read, but as is often the case with literature I’m not sure I’m getting the full value.


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Glad you liked it. sunny side up. A fairly objective (no Japan bashing) comparison of two very different cultures that are too often lumped together as 东方文化. There is plenty to learn about both (ex. child rearing; family dynamics; school system; political life etc).

recipe here

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Recently I finished reading, in English, a book called Rice, by Su Tong. It is a really really difficult book to get through. The characters are awful people who do awful things to each other, and overall it just isn't a very pleasant read. However, it is engaging, sometimes humorous (darkly so), and well written. So I'd recommend it if you're up for a sometimes grusome look at the darker side of the Chinese character.

Another book I read quite recently (which has nothing to do with China at all) was Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen. This book is excellent. Americans especially should be able to relate to this book, as it gives a really honest account of American life and its joys as well as pitfalls. Franzen is a really witty writer, and his prose is just so lively, his dialogues so well-created. I definitly recommend it.

Now I'm working on a book called A Fortune Teller Told Me, about an Italian who travelled around Asia by land and sea after a fortune teller in Hong Kong told him to avoid flying in the year 1993. In each city he decides to consult a local fortune teller. The book is interesting, and it is pretty incredible how much land he managed to cover in the space of a year. It is one of the more unique travel books I've read anyhow.

Haven't tackled anything new in Chinese recently, sadly.

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Things I am reading or have just read in English:

-"Eats, Shoots & Leaves", a funny book about punctuation.

-"Koba the Dread" by Martin Amis, a dark, comical book of essays about Stalin, and about the the Western Left's failure to recognize the evils of the Soviet regime.


In a week or so, I think I'll start "dance of the happy shades", by Alice Munro, whom I keep reading so much about.

In Chinese I'm reading a book based on a soap opera, 酒神, which is cheasy, but easy to follow. Although my modern Chinese still needs a lot of work, I'm taking a stab at "Gateway to Chinese Classics; A Practical Guide to Literary Chinese", by Jeannette L. Faurot.

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I'm still on NY holidays.

Novels are easier to come by in Tokyo - I've read more novels in the past

two years than in the rest of my life put together... I always get them

second hand / swap with other people so I often end up with things that

are different from what I would usually read.

This week I have read

The Village of Stone by Guo Xiaolu - pretty light weight. There were

some touching observations but some bland ones as well. It seemed quite

young (maybe I'm getting old...)

Angels and Men -Catherine Fox - set in a theological college in England.

Surprisingly good.

The men and the girls - Joanna Trollope - light weight but an enjoyable


Pereira Declares by Antonio Tabucchi - set in 1930s Portugal about a

journalists transformation to political awarenss. Also very good.

At the moment I am reading

Ma Jian's Red dust again.

Ian Burumas God's Dust which examines in almost a travelogue style,

the ideas of modernization and tradition in Asis. It is 15 years old - but

still quite thought provoking.

Flicking through Kierkergards Either Or. (not enough brain space or

disclipine to do more than that)

This months Nihongo Journal

In my to read pile I have

Soul Mountain,

Primo Levis Moment's of reprieve,

Low City High City Tokyo by Edward Seidensticker.

and Point Counter Point by Aldus Huxley.

I'm a fan of Tiziano Terzani too - I liked his Goodnight Mr Lenin.

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bhchao wrote "Anyone read Sterling Seagrave's The Soong Dynasty? A pretty derogatory view of the Soong family, excluding Ching-ling. "

Yeah, a while back; enjoyed it. I don't do a lot of reading in English, but my boss said it was required reading.

Right now I'm reading (Chinese) 秦係文字研究 by 陳昭容 , and in English Mattos, Gilbert L. (1988) The Stone Drums of Ch'in (Monumenta Serica Monograph Series, 19), as well as 裘錫圭 Qiú Xīguī (2000). Chinese Writing. Translation by Mattos and Norman of Qiu's 文字學概論. Early China Special Monograph Series No. 4. Berkeley: The Society for the Study of Early China and the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley. ISBN 1-55729-071-7. The latter is HIGHLY recommended!!!

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