China in Context

China in Context 2018 provided an opportunity for some of China’s leading writers to gather in London’s China Town.

Posted by Jian Ping Sun on Sunday, 1st April 2018

The UK’s first annual book festival celebrating Chinese writers and writers writing about China returned to London China Exchange last month. Through a rich programme of talks, workshops, activities and a book fair, the festival delivered a unique insight into contemporary China, history and culture.

From bestselling authors and acclaimed screenwriters to renowned poets and award-winning journalists, China in Context aims to highlight the mainstream talent, themes, and topics in the world’s second largest economy and make them available here in London for those with the curiosity to seek them out.

China in Context 2018 was proud to welcome several prominent Chinese writers to London.

Notable guests included Yan Geling, a famous Chinese-American novelist. Her novels, which include The Lost Daughter of Happiness, The Uninvited and The Flower of War, have led to her recognition as one of China’s leading contemporary writers. Her latest novel, Fang Hua, was adapted for the screen by internationally acclaimed directors and well-received by the audience. During the festival, she described her habit of people watching to create scenarios and characters for her stories. Geling shared that she prefers peaceful environments and life outside the limelight. As interest in her body of work has grown, she touched upon the uncomfortable trend for people to seek profit from her personal effects, manuscripts and signed objects.
Yan Geling also told the media how her life experiences have broadened her horizons, by helping her consider different perspectives and reminding her that the truth can lead to inspirational stories.

The festival’s dynamic programme also featured internationally-renowned Su Tong and Roger Lee. Su Tong is a bestselling author, whose most famous work outside of China was adapted to become the award-winning Zhang Yimou film, Raise the Red Lantern. Roger Lee is an award-winning writer and producer, whose films have transformed Hong Kong cinema.

China in Context is a celebration of Chinese writers and writers writing about China. Following a successful short run in May 2017, the festival returned for a fortnight in March. It was organized by China Exchange and Cypress books. China Exchange is a charity based in the heart of London’s China Town, bringing people to the area for more than just food. The organization’s broad program of cultural events encourages people to learn more about China and its influence on the world. The organization’s manager Louise Chapman said “China’s importance to the UK cannot be overstated. Understanding China politically, economically, and culturally will be imperative in a post-Brexit Britain. By exploring China’s rich literary tradition, the diverse work of Chinese writers, and writers who write about China, China in Context introduces audience to new ideas, encourage them to think differently, and make sense of what the future will look like in an increasingly globalised world.

10 of the Best Chinese Books in Translation available right now

Nicky Harman, the UK-based prize-winning literary translator, shares her recommendations on the best translated works of Chinese literature.

The Chilli Bean Paste Clan, by YAN Geling, translated by Nicky Harman (Balestier Press)

The Last Quarter of the Moon, by CHI Zijian, translated by Bruce Humes (Vintage)

Little Aunt Crane, by YAN Geling, translated by Esther Tyldesley (Vintage)

A Hero Born, by JIN Yong, translated by Anna Holmwood (MacLehose Press)

Young Babylon, by LU Nei, translated by Poppy Tolland (AmazonCrossing)

Our Story: A Memoir of Love and Life in China, by RAO Pingru, translated by Nicky Harman (Square Peg)

Ruined City, by JIA Pingwa, translated by Howard Goldblatt (University of Oklahoma Press)

Lust, Caution and Other Stories, by Eileen CHANG (ZHANG Ailing), translated by Julia Lovell, Karen S Kingsbury, Janet Ng, Janice Wickeri, Simon Patten and Eva Hung (Penguin Modern Classics)

The Four Books, by YAN Lianke, translated by Carlos Rojas (Vintage)

Bronze and Sunflower, by CAO Wenxuan, translated by Helen Wang (Walker Books)

Editor: Georgina Yan

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