Originally published on Rue89, 27/7/2009
For some people, Chinese novels are too long, too complex with a very large number of characters, also it is felt that a deep knowledge of Chinese civilization is needed. Moreover how to choose between writers of whom you know nothing and between books that are sometimes difficult to find !!!
These remarks led me to offer a list on rather strict bases: all books must have been published recently in paperback (in France), and available in bookstores ; they should not exceed 300 pages, easy to read and of good quality.
Many novels met these criteria, the difficulty was to make a choice. We gave priority to novels and writers that have not been presented in the past.
* A great sense of humor :
Several novesl by major writers are quite entertaining and easy to read:
Lu Wenfu: “The gourmet” . A read …before lunch …
Mo Yan: “The Master has more and more humor” . How an old worker, who lost his job, creates a small business …( not in line with morality …) (1)
* Autobiographical writings:
Lao She: “Haeven sent” : The great writer’s childhood in Beijing (1).
Gao Xingjian: “A fishing rod for my grandfather : Short stories, nostalgia of the Nobel prize, Gao Xingjian.
Shen Fu: ” Six records of a floating life” , a masterpiece, the story of a loving couple in the nineteenth century.
* Detective stories:
Qiu Xiaolong: “Mao’s case”. His seven novels are all very interesting with a preference for “Death of a red heroine ” .
He Jiahong: “Blood Crime”. Quite a personnality, a Professor of law in Renmin University in Beijing who wrote five detective stories, unfortunately not translated into English (1).
* History as a backdrop:
Bai Xianyong: ” Taipei People ” short stories by a major taiwanese writer.(1)
Lao She: “Story of My Life” . An old Beijinger in a changing world. (1)
Eileen Chang: ” Love in a fallen city” . Love in occupied Hong Kong; a great writer, who died in the U.S. in 1995. Now one of the favourites of the young chinese generation.
* Two masterpieces published in paperback:
I have to mention two books that do not correspond to the rules of this selection, but are available in paperback:
Mo Yan: “The Republic of Wine”.
Gao Xingjian “The Soul Mountain”.
In my opinion two of the most important books published in recent yeasr.
Translators should forgive me for not having mentioned their names, but it is clear that they are responsible for much of the quality of the books on this list .
(1) not translated into English.