Reading pleasures

Updated: 2011-01-07 13:00

By Chitralekha Basu (China Daily European Weekly)

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MacMillan will launch the paperback edition of Qiu Xiaolong's Years of Red Dust: Stories of Shanghai. In a series of stories, the creator of the poetry-loving sleuth Inspector Chen, talks about how the momentous developments in Chinese history - the Korean War in the 1950s, the "re-education" of urban youth in the 1960s, the financial boom since the 1990s - brought about dramatic changes in the lives of ordinary Shanghai natives.


Reading pleasures

Yan Lianke's book Dream of Ding Village tells the lives of
people suffering from AIDS. Provided to China Daily

Yan Lianke's much-awaited Dream of Ding Village (translated by Cindy Carter) is just out. Often compared to French-Algerian author Albert Camus' classic work, The Plague, Dream of Ding Village is about the social ostracization of people suffering from AIDS, written with ruthless clarity.


Make-Do Publishing will bring out Dancing Through Red Dust, by Murong Xuecun, in English translation. Replete with Murong's trademark cynicism and black humor, the book exposes corruption in the legal circles. "In many ways the book feels like a culmination of what Murong has done in his career so far," says his publisher-translator Harvey Thomlinson. "The novel, whose main character is a wealthy and corrupt lawyer, offers a powerful vision of a legal system where sexual favors are traded for death sentences, and trials are just another method of making money for all involved." The streak of corruption spills beyond the courtroom, sullying relationships, Thomlinson informs.


Alan Paul realized his Ameri-can dream in China. His somewhat bizarre tale about how a series of unforeseen events launched his career as a rock star in the Middle Kingdom, Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing (HarperCollins), is due in the first quarter of the year.


Marvin Farkas, filmmaker and Broadway star, turned cameraman and foreign correspondent to explore the Far East in the 1950s. Farkas arrived in Hong Kong in 1954 and never went back - plunging headlong into films, crime reporting and supplying documentary footage to international news networks.

In An Eastern Saga (Make Do Publishing), Farkas recounts his meetings with legendary figures such as late premier Zhou Enlai, even as he re-creates 1950s Hong Kong, "from the high life on the Peak to opium dens in the walled city".


For art connoisseurs, Hong Kong University Press is bringing out a fine selection of well-mounted titles. Brush and Shutter: Early Photography in China, edited by Jeffrey W Cody and Francis Terpak, features works by unknown photographers 1840s onwards, showing how Chinese artists grafted their own brushwork on photographed images.


A New Thoughtfulness in Contemporary China: Critical Voices in Art and Aesthetics, edited by Jorg Huber and Zhao Chuan, looks closely at the decline of Western influence in Chinese art and a return to workaday realities, besides how the traditional Chinese forms have persisted, despite being systematically eliminated at times.


The second volume featur-ing the works of China's legendary cartoonist, Sapajou II: The Golden Years, edited by Derek Sandhaus, is on its way. Dedicated to preserving the words and images from early 20th-century China, this is a tribute to the genius of an artist and the flavors of 1930s Shanghai, when both the city and the man who made it his subject, truly blossomed.


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