Chinese Corner

Hopping Zombies

Undead with Chinese Characteristics

Are you still looking for a Halloween costume? It’s not too late! Just grab your bathrobe and your mandarin’s cap and you’ll be a jiāngshī – a Chinese zombie, that is.

Jiāngshī aren’t quite the same as the brain-eating undead of the West. In Mandarin, jiāngshī literally means “stiff corpse,” in reference to rigor mortis. They are reanimated corpses, either ancient and undecomposed or freshly undead, but with Chinese characteristics. For one, they wear the outfits of Qing dynasty officials: robes and domed hats. If they catch up with you, they suck out your life energy, your , instead of your brains. Their limbs are stiff, so they move by ...hopping. George Romero wasn’t consulted on this point.

Story Club

Discussion: What Happens After Nora Walks Out?

Reader questions and comments on Lu Xun’s essay, and our responses

Last month, as part of ‘Lu Xun week’ to mark our launch, we published our first story club feature: a new translation of a 1926 essay by Lu Xun, What Happens After Nora Walks Out? Now we bring you the follow-up: a selection of questions and comments on the story from readers who wrote in, with our replies from our editors. Think of it as a digital version of a book club meeting (but with less interrupting and daytime drinking). We hope this inspires you to revisit the original essay, and understand it in a new light. Scroll down to see the randomly selected winner of the giveaway prize, who will receive a copy of the new Lu Xun collection the story comes from. And look out soon for the November installment of story club, with a very different kind of Chinese story to discuss. – The Editors

Steve Bewcyk asks: How does this talk of dreaming relate to the "China dream"?

Staff Picks

Introducing Staff Picks

Our miscellaneous recommendations – a new occasional feature

Linda Jaivin’s The Monkey and the Dragon: A True Story About Friendship, Music, Politics and Life on the Edge (Text Publishing, September 2000), which straddles the line between memoir and biography, is by an author who is nothing if not versatile: Jaivin translates Chinese literature, pens commentaries on cultural issues, and writes novels with titles like Rock n Roll Babes from Outer Space. The book focuses on Hou Dejian, a folk singer who moved from Taiwan to the mainland in the 1980s and later became, as Jaivin puts it, the first straits-crossing gadfly figure to be “returned to sender” by the Chinese authorities. It’s a rollicking read that, among other things, has a long section on the 1989 movement.

Story Club

What Happens after Nora Walks Out

An exclusive essay by Lu Xun to kick off our monthly story club


Each month we will publish a Chinese story, fiction or nonfiction, in translation, and invite you, our readers, to write in with your thoughts. Our first offering is an exclusive excerpt from Jottings under Lamplight, the new collection of Lu Xun’s essays in translation, published by Harvard University Press, that Liz Carter reviewed for us.

In this essay, originally a talk to a women’s college in Beijing in 1923, Lu Xun tackles a range of topics, all under the guise of wondering about the fate of one of literature’s most famous figures: Nora, a Norweigen housewife in the late 19th century and protagonist of Henry Ibsen’s celebrated 1879 play A Doll’s House. At the end of the play, belittled by her husband and a constrictive society, Nora walks out on her family, slamming the door behind her as the curtain falls. Lu Xun picks up the strand of thought from there, and compares Nora’s predicament to that of the fledgling republic of China.


Welcome to the LARB China Channel

The birthday of a writer and a magazine

On September 25, 1881, a baby boy called Zhou Shuren was born into a Confucian household in Shaoxing, a postcard-perfect town south of Shanghai known for its canals and its rice wine. His father was a scholar and his grandfather was an official in the dynastial government in Beijing. It was a large house, with wooden furniture, a fish pond and no shortage of classic books and calligraphy scrolls. But his father was ill and the family fell on hard times, compounded when grandfather was imprisoned for allegedly taking bribes. In the early years of the twentieth century Zhou Shuren studied medicine in Japan on a Qing government scholarship, but decided that he wanted to heal China instead. He started to write essays and stories, fiery and critical, and took a pen name: Lu Xun.