Our Top Ten Most Read Essays

The China Channel is entering its second year with a reminder of our top posts

The Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel launched a little under a year ago, on September 25th 2017 – the anniversary of the birth of Lu Xun, whose iconoclasm and cultural interests we celebrated and identified with. Since then, we have published 215 posts, with praise from various quarters and top monthly readers in the tens of thousands. We’re taking September and the beginning of the new school year as our premature anniversary, to announce that we have continued funding from the Henry Luce Foundation, with additional support from the US-China Long Institute at UC Irvine, for another year of operations.

Thank you for reading us, and below are the top ten most read essays on the China Channel from the last year. We look forward to the year ahead, and have some wonderful reviews, essays and more lined up, after a week's break to mark the end of summer.


20 Best China Books

Essential reading for your China library, in four categories

Third and last in our mini-series of summer listicles, after 12 must-read Chinese fiction books, and 12 must-watch Chinese films, comes this master list: 20 of the best general books about or from China. We are selective, of course, and these recommendations are far from comprehensive. We’ve also split it into four lists of five: books on contemporary China, books on Chinese history, books from Chinese voices, and Chinese classics.

We hope this is useful as an open sesame for new China watchers, or to encourage old hands to plug holes in their bookshelf. The lists are designed as all you need to pack your bag or Kindle with to grasp that aspect or perspective of China, without being overwhelming. Naturally, we have missed out a plethora of wonderful books. But, we hope, this is only the beginning of your reading.

Staff Picks

Back-to-School Staff Picks

Another round of recommendations from the China Channel

After our previous fall and winter staff picks, we bring you a summer selection of reading, watching and listening from our extended masthead, in time for the new academic year. From a book about unfairly forgotten China hands, to contemporary Chinese music and a documentary about Buddhist mountain hermits, we hope it inspires you to widen your cultural horizon. – The Editors

Jeffrey Wasserstrom: Eve of a Hundred Midnights by Bill Lascher

China in the middle of the 20th century attracted a large number of extraordinary Western writers.


12 Best Modern Chinese Films

Must-watches for the China cinema connoisseur

Next up in our listicles is cinema – a dozen of the most essential films from contemporary China. As with our literature list, we are focusing on recent works, after 1980, from mainland China. That means we miss out Taiwanese films such as the work of Edward Yang, Ang Lee or Hou Hsiao-Hsien, not to mention Hong Kong directors including Wong Kar-Wai or the wacky genius of Stephen Chow. But it should be a good springing board for those looking to watch their way through the last decades of China’s cinematic history.


12 Best Chinese Contemporary Fiction Books

Must-read novels and short stories from modern China

The China Channel is selling its soul and running a short summer series of listicles: on literature, film and China books. We begin with the fiction, focusing on contemporary fare from the last decades, to better give a feel for modern China through its novels. The list is selective and subjective, and partly determined by what is available in translation.

We deliberately left out Chinese writers overseas – Gao Xingjian, Ha Jin, Ma Jian, Guo Xiaolu, Amy Tan and Yiyun Li to name a few, all of whom could have formed another list of their own – to focus on novelists and short story writers living in the mainland. We also favoured an urban rather than a rural focus, as it's so much more relevant to the China that most visitors see. For sure there are plenty of fantastic titles that we’ve missed – but this will be a good start for the curious, and we hope it inspires you to find new favourites and rediscover old ones.