Whether or not you’re interested in Chinese literature, you’ve probably heard about Mo Yan, the Chinese writer who won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. Chinese literature prides itself on its ancient history with literary greats like Lu Xun, Ba Jin, Lao She, Qian Zhongshu and Zhang Ailing, who have produced some of the best works of the 20th century and are must-reads for Chinese literature enthusiasts. However, modern and contemporary works should not be overlooked. There are a multitude of contemporary works that are written by writers born not too long ago.
Peter from China Whisper has made his list of the Top 10 Coolest Novels about Modern China. Some of them have shaped popular culture and some will become classics, but all depict China in its modern times.
All 10 titles are available on Amazon. Below are the titles and descriptions of each book.
1) The Republic of Wine by Mo Yan
The Republic of Wine: A Noveltakes place in a fictional province in modern China. The plot is filled with enticing yet horrific accounts of corruption and hallucination, and mixes many different styles: satire, surrealism, detective, martial arts or wuxia, and more. Mo Yan once called it his most perfect novel.
2) Civil Servant’s Notebook by Wang Xiaofang
Corruption, bribery, seduction, power struggles and cunning plans… You’ll get the insider’s scoop in Wang Xiaofang’s Civil Servant’s Notebook.
3) I Love Dollars by Zhu Wen
Despite the nation’s official stance as a Communist country, China has turned largely capitalist. Zhu Wen tells imaginative stories of the post-Mao China, in a spiritually bankrupt and monetarily-driven time.
4) The Corpse Walker by Liao Yiwu
The Corpse Walker features Chinese citizens at the bottom of society. Their stories tell of cruel times and the harshness of life. Liao Yiwu depicts the authentic, ruthless, yet moving parts of his subjects’ lives.
5) Candy by Mian Mian
Mian Mian popularized and introduced nightlife, alcohol, drugs, the Beat Generation, Radiohead, and rock’n’roll to a generation of her readers. Candy tells the story of a nonconformist girl.
6) The Fat Years by Koonchung Chan
Banned in China, The Fat Years envisions a totalitarian China, where a month has been erased in official Chinese history. A small circle of friends search for this missing month.
7) Please Don’t Call Me Human by Wang Shuo
Wang Shuo, China’s bad boy of literature, writes about modern China with his signature vulgarity, satire and cleverness.
8) Wang in Love and Bondage by Wang Xiaobo
This book is the first English translation of works by Wang Xiaobo, featuring 2015, The Golden Age, and East Palace, West Palace. The novellas take place during the Cultural Revolution, and made Wang Xiaobo one of the most respected and beloved contemporary writers in China.
9) Apologies Forthcoming by Xujun Eberlein
Apologies Forthcoming alludes to apologies not yet issued regarding the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath.
10) Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui
Bestseller, Shanghai Baby dropped a bomb on Chinese literature in 1999. It imitates the style of Henry Miller and writes about female masturbation, sex, drug use, and homosexual activities, thus banned in China. This book is often considered a part of the feminist movement in China.