Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

skylee

What are you reading?

Recommended Posts

Lu

Xinran, The Good Women of China. The book is interesting enough, but unfortunately the translation (Chinese to English to Dutch, which is a bad idea even if all translators involved are fairly good at their work) is absolutely abysmal. There's barely a sentence that can't be improved and reading the text hurts my brain.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

艾墨本

It's a wonderful book in English. I loved it. It did bring me to tears on several occasions. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu

I just finished 马桥词典 by Han Shaogong, in Dutch translation (Woordenboek van Maqiao). Very, very good literature. The book is built from dictionary entries or dialect words, with some enties telling a story, some part of a story (or sometimes both a story and the setup for a later story), some just musing on time, distance and differences between places and times, and it all comes together. The author has taken his experiences as a sent-down youth to talk about the place he was sent down to (but fictionalised) and its people, but also about how time runs on a different scale in small villages, how history works differently there, how things that have small consequences overall can be of major importance in a smaller place, and similar themes.

 

The translation is interesting. The translation of the running text is, in my opinion, rather unpolished. Many sentences that I would have changed in the second draft if I were translating a book. But the translation of the headwords is absolutely brilliant. To translate a dialect word with a word that works in Dutch but is also not standard, and to do that consistently, that's not an easy feat.

 

The story is written from a male perspective and mostly about male characters, or occasionally female characters as seen by men. There are almost more named water buffalo in the book than named women. On the plus side, no women are raped, harrassed or otherwise perved on, so I suppose for contemporary Chinese literature that's not bad at all.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Publius

hmm 韩少功,名字眼熟,原来是当年看过他的《爸爸爸》。1985年吧,新时期文学爆发的一年,莫言的《透明的红萝卜》、刘索拉的《你别无选择》等等。王朔貌似也是那前后开始冒头的。

不过到他写《马桥词典》的时候,我已经基本不看小说了,至少是不看中文小说了,呵呵。

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu

Yes, he's from the 80s. But a different genre than Wang Shuo. I'm not familiar with Liu Suola. I've read Pa pa pa but too long ago to remember what I thought of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Publius

呃,刘索拉是中央音乐学院作曲系毕业的,和瞿小松、谭盾等人是同学。只是因为写了那么一部小说而出名。和她类似的还有个徐星,一部《无主题变奏》然后就再无声息了。那拨人怎么说呢,属于先锋派,实验性质的吧,意识流、后现代什么的,其实也是西方玩剩下的,只不过在当时的中国大陆尚属新鲜,而且有点突破禁区的味道。要知道共产党一贯的理论是文艺要为工农兵服务嘛。莫言、韩少功后来成了知名作家,多少回归到现实主义的老路。余华什么的都是后来的了。

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
skylee

I have recently finished reading two books written by 匪我思存 which I just downloaded from the internet. The first one was 寂寞空庭春欲晚. I chose it because one of the main characters in the story is 納蘭容若. I can't say I like the book a lot (it was not interesting enough and I skipped many parts) although I think it is not that bad.

 

The second book was 東宮. I chose it because I liked the title very much. And this one turned out to be much better in my opinion.  I like the way the story is told. There are inconsistencies in the story but it is OK as I don't take it seriously. 

 

According to the internet, 匪我思存 is quite successful with a number of TV dramas made based on her books. I think she is of the 瓊瑤 genre - books that are good for killing time and for students learning how to write stories etc.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu

In the past week I've read stories in Ge Fei, Su Tong, Bei Dao and just now Li Ang. I liked the style of the Ge Fei story: about a woman who murders her husband (or does she?) and why, told in a few snippets out of order. But the Li Ang story was best: a girl wants to buy a Christmas tree, a flower seller takes her to his garden to pick one out, and she goes home. That's all that really happens. But on the way, she fantasises about everything: the fairy tale that inspires her to buy the tree, how she will run away if the flower seller assaults her, what acquaintances would think if they saw her on the back of his bike, how she would defend herself if he assaulted her, the flower seller's past life, etc etc. It was part Walter Mitty, part Kees de Jongen (who is probably unknown outside of the Netherlands, schoolboy fantasises about interesting things that could but usually don't happen to him), and all this from a female perspective, which adds the fear of what strange men might do. Very good story.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
realmayo

I recently read the second novel from the 秘书长 trilogy (author's name is 洪放) after reading the first last year. I'll read the third before long too. The 圈子圈套 trilogy is often mentioned as approachable, fairly readable books about business (and including plenty of useful vocabulary), the 秘书长 books are the political equivalent. And for me actually more enjoyable. A sympathetic main character, making his way in the sometimes corrupt, difficult path of a Chinese politician. Having said that I'll probably read the final of the 圈子圈套 books at some point too.

 

I also read the short story I love dollars by 朱文 which I didn't particularly enjoy. Which is a shame because I've got 达马的语气 by the same author lined up to read sometime soon.

 

And I finished off 三毛's 撒哈拉的故事 which I really did like.

 

I think I'll try a 韩寒 novel next, 三重门, see what the fuss is (or was?) about.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu
12 hours ago, realmayo said:

I think I'll try a 韩寒 novel next, 三重门, see what the fuss is (or was?) about.

Consider reading his 1988. I've read several 韩寒 books (though not 三重门) and 1988 was most worthwhile, in my opinion. I think I've said something about it earlier in this thread. Although in all honesty his novels (as far as I've read them) are not that great. His blogs are better.

 

Similarly for 朱文: read several of his short stories and didn't like 'I love dollars' that much. I liked 'Pounds, ounces, meat' and 'Ah, Xiao Xie' better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
realmayo

Darn, I'd already got well underway with 三重门 before seeing your post. I'll bear 1988 in mind if I feel like reading another by him but, well, so far I'm not sure I will. Am finding it harder to read than, say, 王小波's essays; 三重门 has so much high-register vocabulary, chengyu after chengyu, not ideal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu
On 4-2-2017 at 5:23 PM, realmayo said:

三重门 has so much high-register vocabulary, chengyu after chengyu, not ideal.

Yeah, he wrote it when he was 17 and there were reasons everyone was so impressed. It was the first Chinese book I ever bought, I was thinking that since it was written by a 17-year-old it should be easy. I was wrong. And no worries about 1988, there are perhaps no better Han Han novels but there are plenty of better other books.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
realmayo

OK, good to hear, I think I'll revert to something not self-consciously literary for the next book. Question is whether to persevere with this one to the end. Very slow going, even while skimming bits. As long as I can keep at it I think I will, I've prepped some of the common vocab and it must be doing me some good. Four days hard grind and I'll be done! But as ever it's a trade off between that and losing enthusiasm for reading.

 

I'm starting to think that if I do want to tackle reading anything at all serious, it's going to be essays rather than novels. It might be that I just don't click with most contemporary literary Chinese novels.

 

I don't know how much more 三毛 wrote but I think I'm going to have to ration her out to myself as an occasional treat. A bit like I've got a temporary ban on 余华.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wurstmann
8 hours ago, realmayo said:

I'm starting to think that if I do want to tackle reading anything at all serious, it's going to be essays rather than novels.

 

If you find some good ones please let me know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
murrayjames

realmayo,

 

Why do you have a temporary ban on 余华 ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron

At a guess I'd say because it's something he enjoys reading but there's only a limited supply and if you read them all too quickly then there will be no new ones left so it needs to be balanced out by other authors.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu

Sanmao wrote something like four travel books and a bunch of other things as well. Yu Hua has the advantage over Sanmao that he's still alive and writing. Personally I don't know if not reading someone because you like them too much is a good idea. I've done this in the past (and perhaps still do it), but taste slowly changes and sometimes I don't love it as much anymore when I get back to it. Which is a waste. Just read what you love as much as you can, is my opinion. There'll be new things to love after that.

 

I'm reading 笛安 and it's going well. Started just before Christmas and only 40 or so pages to go. Two people were killed: the main character's boyfriend and his 13-year-old girl next door. Did the main character, Xia Fangran, murder them, or did something else happen? Every other chapter some new light is shed on the matter, so that she did do it or didn't do it after all, and her reasons for (not) doing it change with it. With descriptions of an abusive relationship (both ways), a long recovery of injury, children bullying, and more. All in conveniently bite-sized chapters. I'm not sure if I'd call it Literature, but it's absolutely worth reading.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
murrayjames

One of most satisfying experiences I've had is reading multiple books by the same author in quick succession.

 

I've done this both with fiction (David Foster Wallace) and with non-fiction (sociologist Peter Berger). After the second or third book you get into a groove, and get a sense of the contour of their thought (what animates them, who their opponents are, how they development an argument over time).

 

Unfortunately, I read far too slowly in Mandarin to do this with 余华, or any other Chinese author.

 

The closest I've come to this feeling in Chinese is reading extensively on a single subject. While I was still in China, I was hired by 四川音乐学院 to lecture on a variety of music-related subjects. At the time, I was working on a PhD in music in English, but I had no idea how to talk about music in Chinese. So I read 《基本乐理通用教材》(a freshman music theory textbook), and then multiple 维基百科 and 百度百科 articles on music-related subjects: 音乐、古典音乐、爵士乐、流行音乐、音乐理论、和声、配器、曲式、作曲、编曲, etc. Over the course of three months, I became way more confident about my ability to speak intelligently on music-related topics. It was a great feeling.

 

Like everyone on this forum, I'm currently reading 余华. I'm working through《十个词汇里的中国》at a snail's pace. No need for me to space it out. There are still lots of 余华 books remaining 8)

 

(I wonder if 余华 is aware of his status among foreigners as a gateway drug to Chinese literature, haha.)

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu
2 hours ago, murrayjames said:

(I wonder if 余华 is aware of his status among foreigners as a gateway drug to Chinese literature, haha.)

I sometimes wonder the same thing about Richie Ren and his 对面的女孩看过来 :-)

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
realmayo

Yes, I've read four of 余华‘s five novels (or five of his six depending on how you regard 兄弟) in the last couple of years and I want to keep one in the bank, because I like reading him and he's easier to read than any other novelist I've come across.

 

22 hours ago, Lu said:

Personally I don't know if not reading someone because you like them too much is a good idea. I've done this in the past (and perhaps still do it), but taste slowly changes and sometimes I don't love it as much anymore when I get back to it. Which is a waste

 

Actually I think this is a really good point and perhaps I should keep on with 三毛. If her other travel writing is similar to the Sahara stories then it can function more as short stories which I can dip in and out of. I'm also stopped half way through her 背景 last year when I got sidetracked by the Sahara stuff so perhaps I'll finish that off first.

 

Lu what 迪安 book are you reading? I see there are several on Amazon Kindle.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...