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skylee
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On 4/7/2022 at 9:59 AM, Lu said:

How did I love this movie and own and like this book and never knew this.

 

😃

 

Almost all my books are bought from Taiwan (Taaze.tw) but I have not been able to find it. I started to think it was some really obscure work, but there being a Dutch translation speaks against that.

 

On 4/7/2022 at 9:59 AM, Lu said:

And I hope you like 1367!

 

So do I! It should be good for keep filling my vocabulary gaps, this is my first detective novel. By the way, if my memory doesn't fail me you also liked Crystal Boys. I read it at the start of this year and it was certainly as good as I hade hoped.

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On 4/7/2022 at 10:08 AM, Insectosaurus said:

By the way, if my memory doesn't fail me you also liked Crystal Boys. I read it at the start of this year and it was certainly as good as I had hoped.

I loved it. Loved the tv series as well, if you can find it anywhere. There is a movie as well, but I haven't seen that.

 

On 4/7/2022 at 10:08 AM, Insectosaurus said:

I started to think it was some really obscure work, but there being a Dutch translation speaks against that.

I mean it was made into a Zhang Yimou movie, so even if it was obscure, in the 1990s that fact alone was enough to get it translated into Dutch. (The 1990s were a good time for Chinese literature translations into Dutch.) That translation is from English, so there must be an English translation out there as well. According to the information in the front of my book, it's called, unsurprisingly, Shanghai Triad.

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On 4/7/2022 at 10:49 AM, Lu said:

Loved the tv series as well, if you can find it anywhere. There is a movie as well, but I haven't seen that.

 

I do have both the series and the movie!

 

On 4/7/2022 at 10:49 AM, Lu said:

That translation is from English, so there must be an English translation out there as well. According to the information in the front of my book, it's called, unsurprisingly, Shanghai Triad.

 

I probably won't be interested in reading a translation, unless I absolutely have to (sorry, I know you're a translator). Hopefully it will turn up one day.

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On 4/7/2022 at 10:52 AM, Insectosaurus said:

I probably won't be interested in reading a translation, unless I absolutely have to (sorry, I know you're a translator).

Oh I'm not offended! I translate for people who can't read the original language (or who read faster in translation), there's plenty of them. I will sputter if someone is Dutch and there is a Dutch translation but they still read the English translation for some reason.

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I just started this! I also read an interview with the author, in which she admits she read almost everything she discusses in English translation.

 

Wow, thanks for passing this little nugget along.  I had put that book on my "to read" list but maybe now I will take it off.  It really does lessen the value of her reportage.

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On 4/7/2022 at 2:27 AM, 黄有光 said:

@Woodford How do you find books to read?

 

I don't have a very great way, actually! I've basically just browsed through the extremely limited collection of books on Amazon in the USA (I'm surprised that a retailer as huge as Amazon, even in the United States, has so few Chinese books). I've been able to get a decent collection of books from there, and now I have enough for a long time. I have around 40-45 books, and I have only read about half of them so far. My practice plan is to include less reading and more speaking/listening at some point within the coming year. So I have enough books now, I think!

 

I've been informed that there are, in fact, much better ways of shopping for Chinese books (i.e., via a Taobao agent). But again, I'm currently finished buying books.

One thing I learned to do is to look at the book reviews and "Top 200" lists on the Wechat reading app (Dushu). That helped me decide to buy my most recent couple of books.

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Aliexpress also has many Chinese books and most of the sellers ship to many countries. The only problem is searching can be a bit annoying as it's an international site so you need to search for the book by it's English name if it has one, or by pinyin. I find searching by the author's name in pinyin is the best. Also need to be careful, read comments and reviews of the seller, just like eBay, some of the sellers might not be as good as others.

https://www.bookdepository.com/ is also pretty good, you can search in Chinese and filter by language. The range is a bit limited but it's getting better so keep an eye out!

For those in the EU, Amazon doesn't really sell many Chinese books sadly, it's much less than the US Amazon.

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https://bpl.overdrive.com/bpl-visitor/content/search/title?page=1&sortBy=newlyadded&format=ebook-kindle&language=zh&maturityLevel=generalcontent&maturityLevel=adultonly&showOnlyAvailable=true

 

The Boston Public Library has more than 500 ebooks in Chinese and quite a few Chinese audiobooks as well.  I'd love for someone to look through it and recommend a few titles that they have.  I don't know how to search their Chinese holdings except to look through the listings page by page.

 

Although I don't live in Boston, my library card gives me access to their offerings.

 

If you have library access to a major metropolitan public library in the US or Canada, this might be a good source for people as well.

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On 4/7/2022 at 11:30 AM, Moshen said:

Wow, thanks for passing this little nugget along.  I had put that book on my "to read" list but maybe now I will take it off.  It really does lessen the value of her reportage.

 

Well, that's not necessarily true. From what she says she appears to have assembled a list of books, and then only read in Chinese the small number of those books that didn't have English translations. That's different from assembling a list of books based on what's been translated into English.

 

The way she did it implies that she had an idea of what books were supposed to be important, before reading them. If she got that from asking lots of people what's important, then it becomes a question of how well informed she is about what Chinese people like reading, rather than a question about how many books she has read in Chinese.

 

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Finished the first chapter of 1367 today. It's certainly different from the books I tend to read (as was to be expected and it was what I asked for). One problem for me so far is that that I'm mostly interested in writing per se—who did it and why is not something I really care about. I had the same problem while reading The Da Vinci Code. I've read at some places that the first chapter is a bit different than the upcoming ones, so still a lot to read before making up my mind.

 

The ending of chapter one basically hints that rights aren't that important if the police want to get justice for victims of crime. Let's see how that angle evolves in the coming chapters. It also makes one of the world's least corrupt societies sound like Russia, but so far that might just be the opinion of our main character rather than that of the author.

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Just finished 人间告白, which is a non-fictional memoir written just a couple years ago by a woman in her early 30s who lost her young husband to cancer, leaving her alone with a small child. It's a short and simply-written book with several short chapters--one about how she met her husband, another about how they dealt with the cancer diagnosis, another about dealing with his death, another about learning to cope after his death, another about trying to help her son understand what's happening, etc. In that regard, I'm reminded of Yang Jiang's "We Three" (my second ever Chinese book), in which the author talks about the passing of her husband and her daughter. While Yang uses a lot of artistic and surrealist language, this author keeps things more down to earth. I think this book would be very emotionally resonant with people who have gone through the same thing. The book comes packaged together with a nice commemorative booklet entitled "a letter to my son in the future," which was the letter that became famous on the Chinese internet (and became the inspiration for the full-length book). The booklet has all sorts of family photos in it. All around, it was a readable and engaging book--be prepared for some really sad parts, of course.

 

My (relative) fluency in reading is growing, but I still get slowed down by certain cultural references and the occasional tricky sentence pattern. Like: 一年半以前, 我一直过着把每天当作最后一天来活的生活... I had to read it a couple times before I realized what it meant. Ah, she's saying that she was living the kind of life in which she treats each day as though it's her last. I could otherwise read the book quite smoothly (I only had to look up 1 word about every 5 pages), but I am regularly reminded that I am not a native Chinese reader. There's always some measure of awkwardness in it. Sometimes American and Chinese culture overlap, so that when an American term is transliterated into a Chinese one, I can't recognize it anymore. I was wondering what a "Shinubi" is for the longest time. What on earth is a Shinubi? Is it a Japanese thing? A weapon, like a shuriken? Or a Shinobi? Nope. It's SNOOPY, the American cartoon character.

 

Next, I'm reading 上帝掷骰子吗? It's a beloved work of pop science in China with great reviews on WeChat, and it goes through the history of quantum physics, reviewing such figures like Einstein, Newton, Planck, Schrodinger, etc. It delves into all matters, scientific, historical, philosophical, religious, etc. I'm looking forward to it a lot, and it doesn't look too difficult to read.

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On 4/16/2022 at 1:22 AM, Woodford said:

一年半以前, 我一直过着把每天当作最后一天来活的生活

My wife is native Chinese and a bookworm, she says this sentence is grammatically correct but the style is not good, it has “space for improvement”… 

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On 4/9/2022 at 1:30 PM, Insectosaurus said:

One problem for me so far is that that I'm mostly interested in writing per se—who did it and why is not something I really care about.

That's a bit of a pity, because who did it, why and how is exactly what this book does so well.

 

On 4/9/2022 at 1:30 PM, Insectosaurus said:

The ending of chapter one basically hints that rights aren't that important if the police want to get justice for victims of crime. Let's see how that angle evolves in the coming chapters. It also makes one of the world's least corrupt societies sound like Russia, but so far that might just be the opinion of our main character rather than that of the author.

Can you say more about this (in spoiler tags perhaps)? As I remember Kwan Chun-dok and his protegé, they actually have really strong morals, but it's been a few years since I read the book.

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On 4/18/2022 at 9:37 AM, Lu said:

Can you say more about this (in spoiler tags perhaps)? As I remember Kwan Chun-dok and his protegé, they actually have really strong morals, but it's been a few years since I read the book.

 

See attached image. They don't like corruption, but also don't seem to be big fans of following rules if they are a hindrance to the investigation. Not a dealbreaker, I was more interested to see whether or not that angle would evolve further. In chapter two I had no such reservations.

 

On 4/18/2022 at 9:37 AM, Lu said:

That's a bit of a pity, because who did it, why and how is exactly what this book does so well.

 

 

I want to make clear your recommendation was exactly what I asked for. Having seldom read such books it was I who misjudged much much I would appreciate it. I finished episode two a few days ago and I preferred it to the first. The case was more interesting and we got to read about more Hong Kong environments and areas of the city. I will probably finish the book—I don't like leaving books unfinished—but I might mix it up with other stuff.

IMG_0047.jpeg

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On 4/18/2022 at 9:57 AM, Insectosaurus said:

They don't like corruption, but also don't seem to be big fans of following rules if they are a hindrance to the investigation.

Ah I get it now. Yes, to them, what is Right is more important than what the law says, and that is a theme. Do finish the book, the ending is interesting (I won't say more than this).

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Not Chinese, but about 900 pages into the first volume of the Stormlight Archives, the Way of Kings. The idea was to take a break from Chinese for awhile and read something in English, not sure why I needed to pick a book that's the length of at least 3 normal books but I am enjoying it. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Just finished an English book called The Subplot: What China Is Reading and Why It Matters by Megan Walsh which is a short run-through of who and what the writer thinks are big in Chinese fiction of the last 20 years.

 

Thanks for this recommendation.  I just finished reading it.  I have to say that it very much dampened my interest in seeking out contemporary Chinese fiction written in Chinese!  For those who don't have the time or money to read the book, I'll summarize some of the most striking points in it.

  • Censorship of Chinese fiction takes place at the level of bookstores and publishers, not at the level of punishment of authors. 
  • Chinese writers of controversial works can have their work available in foreign languages without repercussions in China.
  • Works can disappear at a moment's notice for reasons that remain unclear.
  • Many showplace bookstores contain shelves and shelves full of fake books!  (She doesn't speculate much on the reasons for this.)
  • Fiction is a significantly smaller percentage of the book industry in China than in the US.

This commentator takes an extremely negative view of the webnovel industry.  She points out that only those who can sustain extremely high daily character counts see success.  The marketplace thus rewards those who created convoluted, almost endless plots like those of video games.  These pitiable authors have to be productivity machines and can be ruthlessly and severely censored at any time.  Imagine having thousands of pages of stuff you wrote get disappeared in an instant!  There is no incentive for writing quality in this industry.

 

There are an excellent few pages in Chapter 6 on China's current paradoxical longing for the countryside.

 

In her whole book, only Chinese science fiction comes off well from a literary standpoint.  I had hoped to finish the book with some suggestions to add to my reading list, but since I'm not interested in sci-fi, not one item mentioned caught my interest enough for that.

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I agree with that summary of the largely gloomy view the book offers. However in my memory, she writes warmly of the 'big guns' such as a Yu Hua or Wang Xiaobo or Yan Lianke, and also writes fairly encouragingly of other writers who (for whatever reason) might already be familar to some Western readers. Unlike you, I certainly added a few authors to my to-read list. So it's not just sci-fi that comes off well, I'd say.

 

But yes, in a way her view seems to me to be: anything that properly engages with the rather grim and contradictory reality of writing contemporary fiction in China will probably end up being rather grim and contradictory to read. However Sci-fi can avoid directly engaging but still be worthwhile. Typical webnovels may be fine for passing the time but perhaps no more than that. (Is the impression I got from her book.)

 

Anyway I personally think most of the best books anywhere will always be old books. So, @Moshen, here you go: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/50653-a-new-practical-primer-of-literary-chinese-by-paul-rouzer-all-chapter-links/#comment-391627 :mrgreen:

 

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However in my memory, she writes warmly of the 'big guns' such as a Yu Hua or Wang Xiaobo or Yan Lianke, and also writes fairly encouragingly of other writers who (for whatever reason) might already be familar to some Western readers.

 

Yes, that is true.  Also I got the impression that things written before Xi Jinping came to power might be a better read.  She doesn't say much about the literature written to look back at the Cultural Revolution - maybe written in the 1990s? - from other sources I think this is called "wound literature," and she says China has next to no crime fiction/detective stories because ideologically crime doesn't exist.  I'm not certain about that point, either.

 

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