How the world has changed in a few years. When Rong Xinjiang first published the papers collected in this volume, between 2002 and 2015, China’s Belt and Road Initiative had captured the world’s imagination. A flurry of scholarly research rediscovered historical ties between China and its western neighbors. Nowadays managing Covid is China’s highest priority. Deepening relations with neighbors is both less important and more difficult to pursue in the circumstances. Revisiting the flowering of the Silk Road has some echoes of and lessons for what is happening in China today.

Wild Grass and Morning Blossoms Gathered at Dusk, Lu Xun. Eileen J Cheng (trans), Theodore Huters (ed) (Harvard University Press, September 2022)
Wild Grass and Morning Blossoms Gathered at Dusk, Lu Xun, Eileen J Cheng (trans), Theodore Huters (ed) (Harvard University Press, September 2022)

This captivating translation assembles two volumes by Lu Xun, the founder of modern Chinese literature and one of East Asia’s most important thinkers at the turn of the 20th century. Wild Grass and Morning Blossoms Gathered at Dusk represent a pinnacle of achievement alongside Lu Xun’s famed short stories.

Calling for a New Renaissance, Gao Xingjian (Cambria, September 2022)
Calling for a New Renaissance, Gao Xingjian, Mabel Lee (trans), Yan Qian (trans) (Cambria, September 2022)

Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian presents his primary concerns of the past decade or so. He indicts the lingering impact of ideology on contemporary literature and art, and for this reason calls for “a new Renaissance”, a result of which would be “boundary-crossing creations” such as the three cine-poems that he produced and describes in detail in this book.

Dung Kai-cheung’s A Catalog of Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On is an exercise in the influence of late-90s, mainly Japanese, popular culture on young women in end-of-the-century Hong Kong. The “catalog” consists of ninety-nine sketches, perhaps in an homage to Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, where Queneau took an unremarkable short episode and retold it in ninety-nine discursive styles. Queneau’s exercises are clever play with the structures and uses of language. Dung Kai-cheung’s catalog is a cultural “thick description” of popular culture filled with dry wit and humor. His sketches are not short stories. He offers flights of fancy.