Top 10 coolest novels about modern China

There are countless books about China, some quite fascinating and others as old – and long – as history itself. It’s safe to assume that western readers will not want to wade through more than one volume of the 2,300-page “Journey to the West” (16th century) or the 1,800-page “A Dream of Red Mansions” (18th century). So we have compiled this list of newer, and cooler, novels about modern China.

1) The Republic of Wine by Mo Yan

Nobel Prize-winning Mo Yan has penned one of the most surreal, psychedelic novels of Chinese literature in “The Republic of Wine: A Novel”.

2) Civil Servant’s Notebook by Wang Xiaofang

Wang Xiaofang’s “Civil Servant’s Notebook” is a fictionalized yet funny peek into the lives of corrupt Chinese officials.

3) I Love Dollars by Zhu We

I Love Dollars”, a collection of humorous short-stories by Zhu Wen about contemporary China’s obsession with capitalism.

4) The Corpse Walker by Liao Yiwu

Dissident writer Liao Yiwu portrays China’s ordinary class of civilians in “The Corpse Walker”.

5) Candy by Mian Mian

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll: taboo topics that stunned China after “Candy” by rebel-girl Mian Mian was first published in Chinese.

6) The Fat Years by Koonchung Chan

Koonchung Chan’s banned book “The Fat Years: A Novel” is a futuristic vision of an alternate China – one the Communist Party does not endorse.

7) Please Don’t Call Me Human by Wang Shuo

China’s bad boy of literature, Wang Shuo, expresses his most vulgar and profane perception of China in “Please Don’t Call Me Human.”

8) Wang in Love and Bondage by Wang Xiaobo

Set during the Cultural Revolution (which is still arguably “modern” China) “Wang in Love and Bondage” is a controversial collection of novellas by Wang Xiaobo.

9) Apologies Forthcoming by Xujun Eberlein

Another excellent read set in the Cultural Revolution is Xujun Eberlein’s sinister, short stories, “Apologies Forthcoming”.

10) Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui

Wei Hui’s infamous “Shanghai Baby”, which documents the sexy author’s glamorous life in the big city, is one of China’s best-selling banned books.

1 Response

  1. Paul Schoe says:

    Thanks Peter for this selection. It gives me some guidance for the next time when I step into a bookstore.

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