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.

From The Blog
11 November 2014

Xu Lizhi threw himself from a Foxconn workers’ dormitory building in Shenzhen on 30 September. He was 24 years old, a migrant worker and a poet: neither line of work looks promising in China at the moment. In the 1980s ‘poet’ was a prestigious job-description, and did wonders for your love life. Now none of the papers would waste space on a poem, even as filler; if a self-advertised ‘poet’ turned up on a dating site there’d be no takers and plenty of eye-rolling: poets must be weird or poor, or both. Modern poetry was more or less buried, along with China’s golden 1980s, in the year we’re not suppose to mention.

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