So I finally cracked into Norton’s forthcoming anthology, The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature today. Knowing almost nothing of Chinese literature, I read Can Xue’s story “Hut on the Mountain” first (A+ stuff) and then went back to the beginning to read Lu Xun’s “A Madman’s Diary,” which ends with this line:
—like who wouldn’t want to read a story that ends that way?
Anyway, the book looks really fascinating. Editor Yunte Huang has put together a compelling mix of genres covering the last century. More to come, but here’s Norton’s blurb for now:
A panoramic literary anthology that tells the inner story of China in the twentieth century.
A search for the soul of modern China, this revelatory volume brings together significant works, in outstanding translations, from nearly fifty Chinese writers. It includes poems, essays, fiction, songs, and speeches written in an astonishing array of moods and styles, from sublime lyricism to witty surrealism to poignant documentary to the ironic, the absurd, the transgressive, and the defiant.
Reflecting on his own experience coming of age in China as a student in the time of Tiananmen, Yunte Huang provides essential context in an opening essay and in headnotes, timelines, and brief introductions to the Republican, Revolutionary, and Post-Mao eras. Both personal and authoritative, his selections make for a joyously informative read. From belles lettres to literary propaganda, from poetic revolution to pulp fiction, The Big Red Book is an eye-opening, mesmerizing, and indispensable portrait of China in the tumultuous twentieth century.