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

Book recommendations - modern settings, colloquial language


jannesan
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,

 

I've been reading and enjoying books by 余华、曹文轩、路遥, but I think it would be great to also read something that doesn't have a countryside setting of a few decades ago. So far I gathered most of the books on my to read list from the "What are you reading" thread, which has a lot of the more classic older novels by the likes of the authors mentioned above.

 

Could someone recommend me some novels they enjoyed that are

  • in modern setting (~ past 20 years)
  • colloquial language (a lot of dialogue)

 

The goal is to get a bit more out of the books in terms of phrases/words that I can apply when speaking with the average Chinese that lives abroad.

Link to comment
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.

撒野 by 巫哲 is exactly what you're looking for. The original webnovel was written in 2016 and later published as a physical book in 2018. The story is mostly set in a rural part of China, but sometimes the characters do travel to other areas including cities. The novel follows the lives of two late teen boys, through many years of their lives, from school all the way to professional life. One of them is from the city who ends up moving to the countryside, while the other was born and raised in the countryside.

 

There's a lot of dialogue and a bit of slang too. The setting minick north eastern China so there are a lot of 儿话 when they talk.

 

The physical version is heavily censored, with strong language and explicit scenes removed so I recommend the web version. Google it and you'll find it :)

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 3/13/2022 at 5:27 PM, MoonIvy said:

The physical version is heavily censored, with strong language and explicit scenes removed so I recommend the web version. Google it and you'll find it :)

 

Thanks for the recommendation, is this the right uncensored version: https://www.zhenhunxiaoshuo.com/saye/ ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@jannesantry this link :) https://www.shubaow.net/141_141065/ this is the one I went for, and I found nothing was censored. Here's the official webnovel page of the author: https://www.jjwxc.net/oneauthor.php?authorid=570049 unfortunately, 撒野 has been locked due to licensing of the upcoming TV drama adaptation. If you like her work, please do consider purchasing and reading one of her other work.

  • Helpful 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can also recommend Murong Xuecun's 成都,今夜请将我遗忘 novel. I recall it having a fair bit of monologues on top of the dialogues, and the author can go over the top with niche chengyus, but overall it was an enjoyable read for me (actually the first novel I finished in Mandarin). It is not for everyone, though: expect something like a Bret Easton Ellis novel, but on the lower yuppie side and in China. Also, the novel has many dark tones, but this should not be new for you after reading Yu Hua.

  • Like 1
  • Helpful 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am almost done reading 你是我的荣耀 by 顾漫 and I think it may be exactly what you're looking for. The story centers around two school classmates, one who becomes a rocket engineer and another who becomes a celebrity, who rekindle their relationship through an online game. It is mostly set in Shanghai. I chose this book because I wanted to become more acquainted with modern colloquial language, internet slang, etc... and this book was perfect for that.

 

The upsides to the book are:

  • Very casual, modern story. Almost like watching a TV drama (in fact, a super popular Chinese TV drama was based on the book).
  • Uses a lot of informal language, internet slang and social-media related terms like 热缩 (popular search), etc...
  • Not too difficult content-wise, except for specific sections that focus on gaming. Even these are pretty manageable with patience.
  • There is a free online fan-translation if you need to double check your understanding.
  • Easy to find - I bought my copy on Amazon with prime shipping to the US.

Now for the downside:

  • The gaming sections can be a bit tedious. There are lots of terms specific to the game they are playing in the book that are not in the dictionary and not intuitive to work out on your own (the fan translation helped me with this). Nor do they seem particularly applicable to real life. It would be similar to a non-English speaker watching an English Starcraft stream and picking up terms like "pylon" and "zerg rush". They come up often enough where it's frustrating not to learn them, but they're not very useful words in real life.

Overall, I am glad I chose the book and would recommend it.

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Helpful 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've read 顾漫's other book 微微一笑很倾城, also gaming related. About a university couple that met in an MMO. There weren't that many gaming words I don't think, as the focus moves away from gaming after a while. However, 微微一笑很倾城 is extremely cheesy so may not be everyone's cup of tea. 微微一笑很倾城 has been adapted into a TV drama, available on Netflix called Love020.

 

顾漫's other book called 何以笙箫默, is also another popular one from her, and it doesn't have a gaming back drop. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 3/14/2022 at 11:11 AM, MoonIvy said:

try this link :) https://www.shubaow.net/141_141065/ this is the one I went for, and I found nothing was censored.

 

thanks, I managed to scrape the site and create an epub :)

my analysis says 740k characters, 12.5 unique words, but ~94% comprehension.

seems like a good candidate, i'll check the first chapters and see how i like it.

 

On 3/15/2022 at 10:11 PM, ZhangKaiRong said:

I can also recommend Murong Xuecun's 成都,今夜请将我遗忘 novel.

 

On 3/16/2022 at 12:03 AM, dakonglong said:

I am almost done reading 你是我的荣耀 by 顾漫 and I think it may be exactly what you're looking for.

 

thanks for your suggestions, i'll also check these out!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/7/2022 at 11:21 AM, MoonIvy said:

Have you managed to give 撒野 a go? What are your thoughts on it so far, especially in terms of difficult level?

 

Yes, I’ve read the first 3 chapters so far. Language-wise it’s not very difficult, although some (presumably slangy) expressions fly over my head. I’m too lazy to look stuff like that up though and it doesn’t really interrupt the reading flow. The story is not gripping me that much yet, but I’m planning to keep reading, it’s definitely great for picking up colloquial language!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
Quote

I am almost done reading 你是我的荣耀 by 顾漫 and I think it may be exactly what you're looking for. The story centers around two school classmates, one who becomes a rocket engineer and another who becomes a celebrity, who rekindle their relationship through an online game. It is mostly set in Shanghai. I chose this book because I wanted to become more acquainted with modern colloquial language, internet slang, etc... and this book was perfect for that.

 

The upsides to the book are:

Very casual, modern story. Almost like watching a TV drama (in fact, a super popular Chinese TV drama was based on the book).
Uses a lot of informal language, internet slang and social-media related terms like 热缩 (popular search), etc...
Not too difficult content-wise, except for specific sections that focus on gaming. Even these are pretty manageable with patience.
There is a free online fan-translation if you need to double check your understanding.
Easy to find - I bought my copy on Amazon with prime shipping to the US.
Now for the downside:

The gaming sections can be a bit tedious. There are lots of terms specific to the game they are playing in the book that are not in the dictionary and not intuitive to work out on your own (the fan translation helped me with this). Nor do they seem particularly applicable to real life. It would be similar to a non-English speaker watching an English Starcraft stream and picking up terms like "pylon" and "zerg rush". They come up often enough where it's frustrating not to learn them, but they're not very useful words in real life.
Overall, I am glad I chose the book and would recommend it.

While reading these books, it is very important to read carefully and take notes of the main ideas so that you can return to them more often. I have now turned to https://assignmentbro.com/ca/write-my-assignment for help in writing some research based on these books.

Very good book, thank you!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/16/2022 at 12:03 AM, dakonglong said:

I am almost done reading 你是我的荣耀 by 顾漫 ......

 

Now for the downside:

  • The gaming sections can be a bit tedious. There are lots of terms specific to the game they are playing in the book that are not in the dictionary and not intuitive to work out on your own... 

 

I started this book and the gaming section is killing me. There is just no way to understand this with normal dictionaries... How much of the book is just gaming, how much is story outside gaming? (I am around 8 chapters in) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Jan Finster As best I can recall, the second half of the main novel (excluding the appendix) has little to no gaming in it. Instead, it primarily focuses on the relationship between the main characters.

 

When I started the book, I felt much the same way you do. The gaming really threw me off, but there were two things that really helped me to push through:

  1. I started to treat the gaming sections like a reading comprehension exercise. I focused on extracting the information I cared about and ignored the rest. There were a lot of sentences like "W hero used X special ability to defend against Y hero's Z special ability" and I just chose to ignore W, X, Y and Z. In some cases, I saw these terms so many times that I would eventually figure out what they meant from context. In other cases I got through the whole book without learning them and I'm fine with that. I think this is actually a good skill to develop to improve language comprehension because it teaches you to accept ambiguity and filter for critical information. Unless you're at an advanced level, you're rarely going to understand every word of a foreign-language interaction, but if you understand the critical parts, you're fine. By the way, if you really want to know what all these terms mean, you can figure most of them out from the fan translation: https://hui3r.wordpress.com/gu-man/youre-my-glory-on-going/ (even the translator had trouble with some of these sections, which made me feel better).
  2. Of the books I have read so far, this one was by far the most contemporary and the language was much more colloquial. It helped me to learn vocabulary I will actually use, and some internet slang, which I have always wanted to learn.

I wonder if it would be worth starting a questions thread for this book similar to Woodford's Ordinary World thread. That would help out anyone that wants to read this book in the future.

  • Helpful 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was a while ago when I recommended 撒野 for modern colloquial language. Since then I've read many books and have found the following to be quite good for learning modern terms (especially around the use of social media, apps and internet). The two below are very recent, released ~5 years ago. Both short and free.

 

婚后热恋 by 一个米饼 - https://www.gongzicp.com/novel-615.html (2017) - Main character is a new actor trying to find his way around the entertainment world. Quite a good amount of social media interactions, and Weibo usage. The Weibo messages were a little confusing, I didn't fully understand some of them, but I got the general idea of it from story context (like either the messages were positive or negatives towards the main character). There's also an audiodrama adaptations that's free to listen to: https://www.missevan.com/mdrama/24642

 

社交温度 by 卡比丘 - https://www.gongzicp.com/novel-2543.html (2018) - Two university/masters degree student meet on a dating app. Lots of messaging app terms, and lots of conversions between the two characters. You don't need to be familiar with dating apps or have used one before, the author does explain the general concept such as swiping (left right etc) and matching based on interest/distance/etc. One of the character is pretty flirty...so if you want to learn to flirt in Chinese... Warning: there's a small amount of angst but it's a happy ending! There's also an audiodrama adaptations that's free to listen to: https://www.missevan.com/mdrama/22509 (I binged it all in 2 days, it's really really good! highly recommended!). There's also an manhua adaptation on Bilibili (not free though)

 

I've also finished 何以笙箫默 by 顾漫, this one is non-gaming and about two working adults in their late 20s/early 30s. One is a photographer and the other is a lawyer. It's a decent read, however, the book was written in 2003 (one of guman's earliest novel), so the most modern thing they talk about is sending a text message to each other (I don't even think they called mobile phones 手机 back then). The vocab is still pretty modern but you just won't learn anything related to social media, use of internet, online shopping etc that you'll often find in novels written ~5 years ago.

  • Like 1
  • Helpful 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/25/2022 at 8:06 PM, dakonglong said:

When I started the book, I felt much the same way you do. The gaming really threw me off, but there were two things that really helped me to push through:

I will watch the TV show on Netflix first...if I still like it, I may go back to the book...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Any recommendations for anything similar to Haruki Murakami in Chinese? I just started reading his novels recently (first was Norwegian Wood and now I'm about to finish Dance, Dance, Dance). I suppose I could just read my next Murakami book in Chinese translation instead of English, but I would prefer an actual Chinese novelist.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not any Chinese novelists that come to mind, but I've read 東野圭吾 in Chinese translation and thought it was brilliant, would presume Murakami would be too with Japanese-Chinese translation generally being high quality

  • Like 1
Link to comment
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.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...