Fifty years ago, President Richard Nixon stepped off a plane in Beijing: a visit that changed the course of China, the US, the Cold war and the world. The stories in Gish Jen’s newest story collection, Thank You Mr Nixon, span the fifty-year relationship since then, from a Chinese woman press-ganged into translating for her Western tour group, to an English professor struggling to teach the wealthy Chinese students at his university.
The Italian Cultural Institute Hong Kong’s production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Rita, originally performed at the 2020 Italia Mia Festival, has been adapted and reprised at the Guangzhou Opera House. Performed “in the round” and reset to emulate the Theatre’s own bar, the performance featured soprano Xing Xingyuan as Rita, tenor Lin Junliang as Beppe and baritone Zhong Haodong as Gasparo. Zheng Honghao conducted a chamber ensemble in Italian composer Marco Iannelli’s new arrangement.
China’s Pearl River Delta recently surpassed Tokyo as the world’s largest urban area. Amid that vast conurbation of over 60 million people stands the city of Zhongshan. The birthplace of Sun Yat-sen, Zhonghsan’s factories supply China’s middle class with consumer goods like lighting, furniture, and appliances. Looking east across the Indian Ocean, one finds Antalaha, a small harbor town on Madagascar’s eastern coast. Bordered by three national parks and without a paved road to the nation’s capital, Antalaha’s 67,000 inhabitants might seem remote. But thanks to a tree growing in those parks, Antalaha found itself fueling Zhongshan’s furniture industry. Annah Lake Zhu’s new book Rosewood: Endangered Species Conservation and The Rise of Global China, explores the consequences of this unexpected connection.
The Spanish translation of The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the Birth of Globalisation, 1565–1815—the story of the Manila Galleon—with a new introduction by Elvira Roca Barea: “It explains to us not only what it meant in the past but what it still means today to understand the present and even the future of relations between East and West, and very especially, China’s relationship with Latin America.”
The US-based independent film scholar and movie critic specializing in Chinese cinema, Karen Ma’s most recent work takes the form of creative and inspiring interviews with 7 young Chinese film directors, revealing new trends that are not fully acknowledged in Western scholarship. Many balinghou (born in post-1980s) filmmakers are grassroots artists from smaller towns or in rural China not formally trained at film academies.
In the early 1970s, sports may have sparked a thaw in Sino-US relations, but it was classical music that had more lasting influence and would bring Chinese and American musicians together for the first time in the People’s Republic. In 1973, Zhou Enlai invited the Philadelphia Orchestra to perform in Beijing and Shanghai, thus becoming the first American symphony to play in China in a quarter of a century. At the time of Zhou’s invitation, the US table tennis team had already made the term “ping pong diplomacy” a household name and Nixon had already made his secret trip to China. As Jennifer Lin writes in her new book, Beethoven in Beijing: Stories from the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Historic Journey to China, this trip not only marked a turning point in Sino-American relations, but also helped set the future direction of classical music in China and around the world.
In the early 2000s, a group of anthropologists formed the Matsutake Worlds Research Group (MWRG). Their object of collaborative study was to be the matsutake mushroom and the ways in which humans interact with it. 15 or so years might seem a long time for a scholar (let alone a team of them) to study a single mushroom; nevertheless their project is ongoing, having produced two research monographs so far: Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom At The End Of The World and now Michael Hathaway’s What A Mushroom Lives For, as well as a series of essays. There promises to be at least one more book yet to come.