Staff Picks

Legend of the Purple Hairpin

Jason Y. Ng recommends a classic Cantonese opera

Cantonese opera is a traditional art form that originated in Guangdong Province, including Hong Kong and Macau. It differs from other forms of Chinese opera mainly in the language used, namely Cantonese. Compared to other Chinese theatre genres, such as Peking opera and its sibling Kunqu opera, Cantonese opera typically features fewer elaborate acrobatic and dance elements, while putting a stronger emphasis on scores and lyrics. The 1950s and 60s were the heyday of Cantonese opera, as the massive influx of immigrants from China provided both a new audience and an ample supply of creative talent.

Legend of the Purple Hairpin by playwright Tang Ti-sheng is one of the best known and most performed Cantonese operas ever written.

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.

Staff Picks

Christmas Staff Picks

Your holiday shopping sorted – by the China Channel editors

That time of year is rolling around again, like an old yule log. ‘Tis the season to shop, and however you celebrate the festivities or don’t, it’s a good moment for another round of recommendations with a China twist. So here they are, from the China Channel extended family with warm wishes for a happy holidays and speedy Amazon delivery:

Alec AshChinese Philosophy comic strips

Ancient Chinese philosophy is one of those inviting mysteries that is both inscrutable and gives the illusion of simplicity. So I was delighted to discover a series of Taiwanese comic books that make it easy to follow the thought of the old masters, plus with funny pictures to boot.

Staff Picks

Introducing Staff Picks

Our miscellaneous recommendations – a new occasional feature

Jeffrey Wasserstrom: 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.