Staff Picks

End of Summer Reading

Staff picks from the masthead of the China Channel

Another year behind us, and a second year of the China Channel. It has been a full and exciting year, and we’re taking a summer break next week before returning in September. First, another round of staff picks to kickstart your back-to-school reading list, from Chinese characters to Chinese cooking. Thanks for following us, and do become a patron if you want to see us continuing to publish in 2020. – Alec Ash

Anne Henochowicz – Contributing Editor
The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy
John DeFrancis (University of Hawaii Press, 1984)

Whenever I hear a cringe-worthy comment about “pictographic” Chinese characters or on the “dialect” of Cantonese, I summon the spirit of the late John DeFrancis and begin my counterpoint. I first encountered Professor DeFrancis, one of the most innovative and influential modern scholars of the Chinese language, through his book The Chinese Language: part primer on spoken and written Chinese, and how the writing system spread across East Asia; part take-down of every myth and mystical notion about the language.


Help Make More Chinese Voices Heard

Join our translation fund drive by donating on Patreon

Since our launch in fall 2017, the China Channel has published over 400 articles, from book reviews to essays to narrative dispatches. We’ve also featured dozens of original translations of the best contemporary non-fiction, fiction and poetry, bringing new work from Chinese into English for the first time. In doing so, we have worked in partnership with Read Paper Republic, One-Way Street and The Initium, as well as commissioning original pieces – most recently new translations from the Picun Writers Group.

Our translations are funded in part by readers like you on Patreon. Your support allows us to commission Chinese authors as well as translators, so that Chinese writing that would otherwise remain inaccessible can be read by you. We are grateful to all our sponsors for making this happen, in especial Bill Bishop of Sinocism, and to Stephen O. Lesser, who has supported the Diaspora column. To date, 17 readers are currently donating a total of $161 per month. We thank all of these patrons for their continued support.

As we approach our third year, we are again calling on you to help us continue to fund original translations and meet our other commissioning costs. This July, we’re looking to hit our funding goal of $300 per month in contributions via Patreon. That extra $140 is will allow us to commission more translations from both emerging and established authors. If just two dozen of you committed $5 or $10 a month – as more than that did already in our recent reader survey – then we will hit that goal easily.

Oolong Podcast

Studying Chinese Lawyers

Legal scholar Benjamin Van Rooij on China’s rule breakers

The fourth episode of Oolong Podcast, law is on the bench. It’s not easy to study lawyers in China, says Benjamin Van Rooij, Director of the Netherlands China Law Centre and Professor of Chinese Law and Regulation at the Faculty of Law at the University of Amsterdam. Benjamin tells Lev Nachmann about his years of research in China and offers tips for conducting fieldwork, to professionals and academics alike:


China Channel Reader Survey

Take our short reader survey to win the book of your choice

The LARB China Channel is a digest of reviews, essays, dispatches and multimedia about Chinese culture, society, politics and more. We are a nonprofit, affiliated channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books, launched in September 2017. Your answers to this brief survey will help us to better serve you and other readers across the globe. You’ll also have the chance to enter a prize drawing for a copy of any book that we have reviewed. Please take three minutes to fill out the survey – we really appreciate it. Thank you for your support!

> Take the survey

Chinese Corner


Chinese Corner exam results are in

Editor’s note: Welcome back, Sinophone enthusiasts! Good work to all of the readers who took the final exam in December. This was not an easy test – and it had a few trick questions. But the median and average scores were both 6 out of 10. Well done, everyone!

We have not one but two students who scored 100%. They will each receive a free book of Chinese short stories in the original and English translation: both will receive copies of Short Stories in Chinese, a bilingual text edited by John Balcom (Penguin 2013). Check out the results for each question below and read the Chinese Corner posts that inspired each question. We’ll have more linguistic adventures in the new year, on a roughly monthly basis.