Top Graduate Zhang Xie: The Earliest Extant Chinese Southern Play, Regina S Llamas (trans, intro) (Columbia University Press, June 2021)
Top Graduate Zhang Xie: The Earliest Extant Chinese Southern Play, Regina S Llamas (trans, intro) (Columbia University Press, June 2021)

Top Graduate Zhang Xie is the first extant play in the Chinese southern dramatic tradition and a milestone in the history of Chinese literature. Dating from the early fifteenth century, but possibly composed earlier, it is the work of a writing club called the Nine Mountain Society.

There is a growing interest in a behavioral phenomenon the Internet has dubbed “main character syndrome”. Whether motivated by narcissism or a healthy sense of self-worth, some people live as though they were the hero in a fictional story and interact with the world around them as though they were its center. The narrator of The Woman in the Purple Skirt is not one of these people. She barely sees herself as a character at all. 

Well before ping-pong diplomacy in the early 1970s, there was acrobat diplomacy. As a result, many people around the world became familiar with Chinese acrobats, performers that did more than just walk a trapeze or juggle on stilts. Chinese acrobats brought circus performing to a new level, for instance by balancing multiple stacks of cups and saucers on the top of long sticks—often from two hands and a foot. In Jingjing Xue’s memoir, Shanghai Acrobat, the author not only tells of training with the Shanghai acrobats from a young age, but also shows how these troupes became the face of China, starting in developing countries and eventually reaching the west.

Our Home in Myanmar: Four years in Yangon, Jessica Mudditt (March 2021)
Our Home in Myanmar: Four years in Yangon, Jessica Mudditt (March 2021)

Myanmar—shrouded in mystery, misunderstood and isolated for half a century. After a whirlwind romance in Bangladesh, Australian journalist Jessica Mudditt and her Bangladeshi husband Sherpa arrive in Yangon in 2012—just as the military junta is beginning to relax its ironclad grip on power.