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And Other Essays About Making Trouble in China Today

by Han Han translated by Alice Xin Liu & Joel Martinsen

Pub Date: Aug. 2nd, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4516-6003-6
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A collection from one of China’s most outspoken “troublemakers and dissidents.”

The translators' introduction provides crucial context for newcomers to Han Han (This Generation: Dispatches from China's Most Popular Literary Star, 2012, etc.), who apparently was anointed “spokesperson for his generation” (he was born in 1982) in his native China. A high school dropout, he wrote a novel as a teenager, Triple Door (yet to be published in English), which sold millions of copies. He then turned his attention to auto racing, “going from literary prodigy to racing rookie,” soon becoming as accomplished and renowned in this field as well. During the rise of blogging, he became China’s top blogger and “an Internet celebrity.” He recorded an album, directed a feature film, and became a family man. Now, he doesn’t seem nearly as interested in his writing and disavows some of the essays that made him so popularly notorious. He represents an underschooled voice who protests the educational system and the rigidity of the nationalism and totalitarianism of his homeland. Yet none of the essays, interviews, and blog selections collected here is particularly well-written or will be all that provocative to American readers. “The Chinese education system is terrible because the teachers are terrible” might be a thunderbolt of criticism among his nation’s generation, but it reads like a typical high schooler’s rant. As this book covers 12 years of his writing (the same period as This Generation), his self-reflection shows some maturity. “You can’t keep writing the same thing for so many years,” he writes in “The Problem With Me” (2003). Ultimately, however, he writes, “I’ve never given up anything, from the tiniest flashes of inspiration to my grand ideals, and although my life may be filled with frustration or remorse, I have few regrets.”

A collection more interesting to Western readers for what the author represents than for anything he has written here.