(Roughly) Daily

“Literature offers not just a window into the cultures of diverse regions, but also into their society, their politics; it’s the only place where we can keep track of ideas”*…

… and no region is more valent today than China. In the inaugural offering of a new podcast series from China Book Review, Mary Kay Magistad moderates a conversation that demonstrates the power of literature as an avenue to understanding a culture…

China’s epic transformation over the past four decades has seen cities expand, fortunes rise and expectations change. It has left Chinese people to either ride the waves of change, or scramble — perhaps struggle — to keep up. In the midst of it all, Chinese fiction has reflected and riffed on life on the ground, with humor, satire, pathos and good old-fashioned story-telling. At times in the Reform and Opening Up era, Chinese fiction has even driven a national conversation.

In this first episode of the China Books podcast, I talk to writer Jianying Zha and literature scholar Perry Link about how Chinese fiction reflected and influenced the societal change in the era of Reform and Opening Up, from Deng Xiaoping’s ascent as top leader in the late 1970s until Xi Jinping changed direction from 2013 onward…

More background, transcript, and a link to the streaming audio: “Chinese Fiction in the Reform Era,” from @MaryKayMagistad, @AsiaSociety, and @chinabksreview.

* Reza Aslan


As we listen and learn, we might recall that it was on this date in 1977 that Hua Guofeng followed Mao Zedong as paramount leader of China. The designated successor of Mao, Hua held off the Gang of Four and assumed the top offices of the government, party, and the military after the deaths of Mao and Premier Zhou Enlai. But he was gradually forced out of supreme power by a coalition of party leaders starting in 1978. Led by Deng Xiaoping, this more reform-minded group initiated the Reform Era that’s the subject of the podcast featured above– and China’s transformation into the one-party capitalist state that we know today.

Official portrait of Hua Guofeng (source)
%d bloggers like this: