This time last year, I launched my book “From Kuan Yin to Chairman Mao: An Essential Guide to Chinese Deities” in the UK. Vivian Ni, the wonderful manager of Guanghwa in London, my bookshop of choice for the launch, wrote a lovely article for the occasion of Qi Xi, which she published on WeChat. I liked it so much that this year, I have translated it into English to share with my English-language readers on the same occasion of Qi Xi. The article contains a brief interview with me, I hope you enjoy it.
Posted in Culture and tagged book, china, Chinese, culture, deities, festival, gods, interview, literature, Qi Qiao, Qi Xi, tradition, Valentine's
This week sees many gay and lesbian couples proudly walking up the isle as Taiwan becomes the first region in Asia to legalise same-sex marriages. Whilst my book “From Kuan Yin to Chairman: An Essential Guide to Chinese Deities”, aims to show the depth and breath of native Chinese beliefs and their cultural significance, it’s by no means a definitive guide. One deity I didn’t get to write about in the book, is 兔兒神Tu Er Shen, the rabbit god, patron of homosexual love. This weekend is the perfect time to tell you a little bit about him.
Posted in Culture and tagged book, china, Chinese, culture, deities, homosexuality, Taiwan
“Crazy Rich Asians”, has made a huge impact in the short time since its release, not only because it’s based on an international bestseller by an East-Asian author, Kevin Kwan, but because it features an almost entirely Asian cast, (with only five white guys even getting a speaking part). In a U.S.-originated movie, it’s a rare thing for East-Asians to take centre-stage.
With screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, this is the story of quintessentially American Chinese Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), who embarks on a trip with her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to visit his home, Singapore. It turns out to be the trip of a lifetime. Rachel discovers that her laid-back, low-profile boyfriend is a billionaire whose family built half of Singapore. Between head-on cultural clashes, and the brutal matrimonial realities within Asian family clans, Rachel is way out of her depth, and must sink or swim.
Posted in Commentary and tagged Asia, book, china, Chinese, cinema, Crazy Rich Asians, culture, East Asian, film, review, romcom, Singapore
Chunk and Hu, ex-military and diehard, are accompanying an archaeological expedition near the Kunlun Mountains to discover the lost ancient city of Jingjue. With their aid, Professor Chen, his students, and their overseas sponsor, Shirley Yang, have managed to make her way into the secret city of the Taklamakan. In the final resting chamber of the Queen, they have found her coffin. A magnificently carved Kunlun Wood casket, but growing from the lid, is a large, scarlet, sickly smelling blossom.
Posted in Translation and tagged book, china, Chinese, culture, Ghost Blows Out The Lamp, grave robber, horror, translation
Back in 2008, I was living in Beijing. As you may expect, my Chinese literature course at the CUN involved reading the four cornerstones of Chinese literature (their resemblance to actual stones is remarkable). Having grown up in the UK I was glad to have the opportunity finally to read these works of the 14th and 15th centuries that have had such wide-ranging influence over Chinese culture ever since. So I was tricked by the professor into finishing two of these chunky works in six weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed Romance of Three Kingdoms, but little did I know what I was getting myself into with Outlaws of the Marsh, or Water Margin.
Posted in Culture and tagged book, china, Chinese, classics, culture, Heroe 108, literature, Outlaws of the Marsh, Toho, Water Margin