Friday, July 25, 2008

Catherine Sampson's top 10 books on Beijing

In anticipation of the Olympic Games, the Guardian's book blog showcased "Catherine Sampson's top 10 books on Beijing":
  1. Beijing Coma by Ma Jian
  2. Please Don't Call Me Human by Wang Shuo
  3. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li
  4. The Uninvited by Yan Geling
  5. The Crazed by Ha Jin
  6. The Last Empress by Anchee Min
  7. Serve the People by Yan Lianke
  8. I Love Dollars by Zhu Wen
  9. The Dragon's Tail by Adam Williams
  10. Beijing Doll by Chun Sue
Read the complete post here.

Actually, I'm not sure why The Crazed is recommended. Any of Ha Jin's other novels would have been a better choice.


Robert Burnham said...

All of those books are fiction; I'd be interested in a list of the 10 best non-fiction books about China today.

Robert Burnham said...

I should add to the previous comment that because I've been to China a couple of times, I sometimes get asked for a short list of good books about modern China.

And while I have particular favorites, it would be helpful to have a list that reflected others' experiences and thoughts.

Xujun said...

Good question Robert. Actually I've included several non-fiction books about China in my Listmania! list on Amazon. Some of the books are set in 1940-70s, while a couple are from recently years. I'd be interested in a comparison with your list. Here's the link:

Also, if you are interested, a memoir by former Chinese diplomat Ji Chaozhu, "The Man on Mao's Right," was newly released. I look forward to reading it.

Xujun said...

Hmm, that link was too long. Let's try shrink it with TinyUrl:

Robert Burnham said...

OK, here's a short, highly incomplete list of non-fiction books I have found helpful in understanding China today.

To save duplication, it excludes several that you list at Amazon (Wild Grass, Hessler, Rittenberg, Wild Swans). Not all are in print.

* The Search for Modern China (Spence) - general history of the last two centuries

* Mao (Michael Lynch) - short narrative biography

* Prisoner of Mao (Bao Ruo-Wang) - experiencing thought-reform

* Spider Eaters (Yang) - Cultural Revolution memoir

* China Candid (Sang Ye) - interviews with people

* Will the Boat Sink the Water (Chen Guidi, Wu Chuntao) - rural issues

Xujun said...

Excellent! Thanks Robert. I've read Spence but not the rest. Will check them out, and perhaps choose one to review.

Tom said...

Non fiction books; a short list of some of my favorites
River Town Peter Hessler
Oracle Bones Peter Hessler
Chinese Lessons John Pomfret
Last Days of Old Beijing Michael Meyer
The Chinese Jasper Becker
Hungry Ghosts jasper Becker
City of Heavenly Tranquility Jasper Becker
Mao's Last Revolution Roderick MacFarquhar
God's Chinese Son Jonathan Spence
Red Dust Ma Jian
The Dragon Wakes Christopher Hibbert

All worth reading more that once
Should keep one going for a bit.
Tom Yarrow

Xujun said...

Another interesting list. Thanks, Tom. I've read some of those. Will check out the rest.