In this tear-jerker essay, famous Taiwanese authoress Sanmao ponders on the value of her own life. It was written as she grieved the drowning of her beloved Spanish husband in 1979, and is all the more tragic in light of her suicide 12 years later.
Binge drinking, breakups and air travel don’t mix, people. HSK 6 and up.
An essay from Chinese lit diva Zhang Ailing about a scene of police brutality she witnessed in Shanghai in the 1940s. HSK 6 and up.
In my most challenging post yet, you’ll read the first chapter of controversial literary bad boy Wang Shuo’s dark plunge into the criminal underbelly of Beijing. HSK 6+, not suitable for children.
In June, 1984, thirteen years before the Hong Kong handover, he gave this speech, addressing critics of the “One Country, Two Systems” （一个国家，两种制度）policy, which determined China’s approach to the handover. The policy maintained that different political systems would concurrently be implemented under one government. In other words, that mainland China would remain socialist, and that Hong Kong would remain capitalist (until 2047, anyway), but both would be ultimately overseen by the CCP. It was a radical notion at the time, and it still is in many ways. His words here are a fascinating look into the past.
Mythology: 女娲补天 – Nvwa Mends the Heavens
Doesn’t it seem like humankind has a collective memory of some prehistoric natural disaster built into our DNA? So many cultures have ancient myths about close calls with total destruction, be it Noah’s Ark, or the story of Atlantis, or in China’s case, “Nvwa Mends the Heavens” (女娲补天).
Assassins and spaceships and evil doings! Start reading Chapter One of the novel Support Human Beings by Liu Cixin, author of China’s most famous sci-fi Three Body Problem.
Song dynasty warrior-poet and folk hero Yuefei (岳飞) gets a tattoo to remind himself of his duty to his country. This is an “advanced” post for three reasons: one, there are some words in here that can’t be found in the dictionary, two, there are quite a few proper names, and three, to understand this, you need to know a little bit about Song history.
In Part II of this two-part series, we’ll read acclaimed author Ba Jin’s reply to the 10 elementary school students who wrote him a letter asking him for moral guidance in 1987. I’m not a super weepy person, but I legit cried reading this. This is a noble, elevating piece of writing, and reading it, I’m reminded that in all societies, there are those who struggle with the materialism that engulfs us.
Essay: 《丑石》The Ugly Rock by Jia Pingwa
Jia Pingwa (贾平凹) is one of China’s modern literary greats, and in this short story, it shows. I don’t know how this guy crammed so many insights on the human condition into a few paragraphs about a rock, but he undeniably did.
Lu Xun (鲁迅) lǔ xùn was one of China’s great 20th century writers and thinkers who felt that the heart and soul of the Chinese people had been sickened by the depravity and corruption that ran rampant after the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912.
Yu Hua (余华) is for sure my favorite author of Chinese modern lit. He writes the lives of ordinary village people, and like pretty much all great Chinese village-based fiction from the 20th century, the stories are full of vulgar realism, as you will soon see. But Yu Hua’s work is also tinged with bittersweetness, and for anyone with an HSK 5-6 vocabulary, his novels are surprisingly approachable.
Hey guys. Been a while. I’m studying Chinese IRL, so I’ve got less reason to focus on the blog, but I have been getting all the letters – thank you all. I’ve also received two guest posts that I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t put up yet. Apologies, it may be a while, but they’re […]
Science! A quick paragraph about why peppers come in so many hues. Though the sentence structure here isn’t too bad and the article is very short, I’m classifying this as ‘advanced’ since several of the words are quite chemistry-specific.
History: The History of the Pencil
In the spirit of the holiday season, which is winding to a blissfully overweight close, I give you an article about something you may or may not have just struggled through if you flew home for the holidays (which I did).
Gonna lay it on a bit thick today with something nice and serious. This is an abstract of an academic paper from the Gender Studies Network authored by Zhou Ying.
Novels: Tiger Team – Ghost Hotel
This excerpt is one of the Tiger Team supernatural mystery novels for adolescents. The Tiger Team series was originally created in German by author Thomas C. Brezina, and features a band of young detectives: Jupiter Katz, son of a supernatural researcher Erasmus Katz, Jupiter’s cousin Vicky and Vicky’s little brother Nick. This is listed as […]
In this essay you’ll learn to read Chinese martial arts words – well, a few, anyway – but it’s not really the vocabulary that places this in the “advanced” category. It’s more that most of the text is full of wax-on, wax-off Karate Kid statements, as the martial arts master talks about how putting oneself […]
This news story covers a new government initiative to help protect women from sexual harassment by providing special women-only taxis in the capital city Kuala Lumpur.