Yun Sheng

Yun Sheng is a contributing editor at the Shanghai Review of Books.

A typical​ Chinese millennial hipster will turn up to see you wearing a snug designer jacket, really saggy jeans or super-tight leggings, and white sneakers. They’ll be carrying an eco bag: not any old cotton tote, but one that’s trending on Instagram – the LRB tote perhaps. Baseball caps and dramatic eyewear are among the most popular accessories. Unlike the urban...

Eileen Chang​ is probably the most talked about, studied and emulated writer in modern China. She made her debut as a prodigy in the 1940s in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. After she emigrated to the US in the 1950s, she was canonised in the 1960s by C.T. Hsia in his History of Modern Chinese Fiction, where he called her the ‘best and most important writer’ in mid-20th-century...

Diary: Husband Shopping in Beijing

Yun Sheng, 11 October 2018

At weekends public parks in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai function as matchmaking venues. Anxious parents put out advertisements for their single children – printed on sheets of paper or hung on boards – noting their age, appearance, height, salary and skills, while scouting around for suitable matches. Men should be equipped with a house or an apartment, a solid job and a decent salary; women should be young, good-looking, healthy, have a sweet/gentle/nice character, and some education but not too much (a BA would be adequate; an MA a bit too much; a PhD absolutely intimidating).

I was born in 1980, the year China implemented the one-child policy: I don’t have siblings, and neither do my peers. Whenever a Westerner learns that I’m an only child, the facial expression is a give-away: ‘You must have been terribly spoiled’ or ‘You must have been terribly lonely.’ Stanley Hall, the pioneering child psychologist, referred to the condition as ‘a disease in itself’. Our generation were known as ‘little emperors’ here in China.

Sniffle: Mai Jia

Yun Sheng, 11 September 2014

Mai Jia’s success​ in the West comes as no surprise to his readers in China: we like our airport novels as much as anyone else. It’s odd, though, to hear Decoded – a thriller with a genius cryptographer as its hero – praised as a serious work of literature, which is how the Economist greeted it when the English translation appeared this year: ‘finally, a great...

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