Blurred Boundaries: A Martial Arts Legacy and the Shaping of Taiwan, Hong Ze-Han, Christoper Bates (trans) (YMAA, December 2023)
Blurred Boundaries: A Martial Arts Legacy and the Shaping of Taiwan, Hong Ze-Han, Christoper Bates (trans) (YMAA, December 2023)

The civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists drove the largest refugee exodus in the modern history of China, across the sea to the southern island of Taiwan. Martial artists of many styles were among this diaspora. In the 1940’s areas of Taipei, Taiwan were terrorized by local gangsters. Supported by desperate martial artists who had to flee mainland China with no other resources but their martial skills, they robbed and extorted the population. The locals trying to rebuild a new life after the Japanese occupation, often hired their own cadre of martial artists. The Hong family was one of these merchant families.

Looking back, 1976 was the most tumultuous year in modern Chinese history. Zhou Enlai died in January, Zhu De in early July, and Mao in September. The three main founders of the PRC were gone, unleashing a new era. And in late July that year, Tangshan in Hebei province suffered the worst earthquake in China’s recorded history with a conservative death toll of 242,000. Another 164,000 were injured and over 4000 children were left orphans overnight. 

Kingdoms in Peril: Volumes 1-4, Feng Menglong , Olivia Milburn (trans) (University of California Press, October 2023)
Kingdoms in Peril: Volumes 1-4, Feng Menglong, Olivia Milburn (trans) (University of California Press, October 2023)

One of the great works of Chinese literature, Kingdoms in Peril is an epic historical novel charting the five hundred years leading to the unification of the country in 221 BCE under the rule of the legendary First Emperor. Writing some fourteen hundred years later, the Ming-era author Feng Menglong drew on a vast trove of literary and historical documents to compose a gripping narrative account of how China was forged.

Empire or nation-state? This question has driven much argument in Chinese academic circles. These arguments take more than one form, however. The political view of China as a nation-state has focused very much on the question of sovereignty and international relations. But there is also  a claim about Chinese culture and national identity: the question of what China is vis-à-vis what it means to be Chinese.

When a group of junior high school students in China unwittingly film a murder, instead of turning the footage over to the authorities, they devise a scheme to extort money from the killer. These aren’t just any kids, they are Zhu Chaoyang, Ding Hao, and Pupa—the titular Bad Kids of Zijin Chen’s recently translated thriller.