Award-winning literary scholar and poet Yunte Huang here gathers together an intimate and authoritative selection of significant works, in outstanding translations, from nearly fifty Chinese writers, that together express a search for the soul of modern China. From the 1912 overthrow of a millennia-long monarchy to the Cultural Revolution, to China’s rise as a global military and economic superpower, the Chinese literary imagination has encompassed an astonishing array of moods and styles—from sublime lyricism to witty surrealism, poignant documentary to the ironic, the transgressive, and the defiant.
Huang provides the requisite context for these revelatory works of fiction, poetry, essays, letters, and speeches in helpful headnotes, chronologies, and brief introductions to the Republican, Revolutionary, and Post-Mao Eras. From Lu Xun’s Call to Arms (1923) to Gao Xinjiang’s Nobel Prize–winning Soul Mountain (1990), this remarkable anthology features writers both known and unknown in its celebration of the versatility of writing. From belles lettres to literary propaganda, from poetic revolution to pulp fiction, The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature is an eye-opening, mesmerizing, and indispensable portrait of China in the tumultuous twentieth century.
One of NPR's Great Reads of 2018
A Newsweek Best Nonfiction Book of the Year
With wry humor, Shakespearean profundity, and trenchant insight, Yunte Huang brings to life the story of America’s most famous nineteenth-century Siamese twins.Nearly a decade after his triumphant Charlie Chan biography, Yunte Huang returns with this long-awaited portrait of Chang and Eng Bunker (1811–1874), twins conjoined at the sternum by a band of cartilage and a fused liver, who were “discovered” in Siam by a British merchant in 1824. Bringing an Asian American perspective to this almost implausible story, Huang depicts the twins, arriving in Boston in 1829, first as museum exhibits but later as financially savvy showmen who gained their freedom and traveled the backroads of rural America to bring “entertainment” to the Jacksonian mobs. Their rise from subhuman, freak-show celebrities to rich southern gentry; their marriage to two white sisters, resulting in twenty-one children; and their owning of slaves, is here not just another sensational biography but a Hawthorne-like excavation of America’s historical penchant for finding feast in the abnormal, for tyrannizing the “other”—a tradition that, as Huang reveals, becomes inseparable from American history itself.
Informed by the politics of linguistic appropriation and disappropriation, Transpacific Displacement opens with a radically new reading of Imagism through the work of Ezra Pound and Amy Lowell. Huang relates Imagism to earlier linguistic ethnographies of Asia and to racist representations of Asians in American pop culture, such as the book and movie character Charlie Chan, then shows that Asian American writers subject both literary Orientalism and racial stereotyping to double ventriloquism and countermockery. Going on to offer a provocative critique of some textually and culturally homogenizing tendencies exemplified in Maxine Hong Kingston's work and its reception, Huang ends with a study of American translations of contemporary Chinese poetry, which he views as new ethnographies that maintain linguistic and cultural boundaries.