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Hungry Ghosts: China’s Secret Famine 
by Jasper Becker.
Murray, 352 pp., £19.99, June 1996, 0 7195 5433 0
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... In the two thousand years of Chinese history before the 20th century, there were more than eighteen hundred famines. The locations of these famines and their causes – drought, flood, war, pestilence – are noted in historical records only tersely, but even these simple comments are enough to show that the great famine of 1959-61 was unprecedented in several ways ...

‘Comrade Jiang Zemin does indeed seem a proper choice’

Jasper Becker: Tiananmen Square, 24 May 2001

The Tiananmen Papers 
by Zhang Liang, edited by Andrew Nathan and Perry Link.
Little, Brown, 513 pp., £20, January 2001, 0 316 85693 2
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... on to the United States, still regarded in China as Enemy Number One, where two professors – Perry Link and Andrew Nathan – agreed to translate and edit the documents. Both men have been banned from China so, if this is a deliberate leak, they are an improbable choice. Perry Link, an expert on Chinese ...


Yun Sheng: Mai Jia, 11 September 2014

Decoded: A Novel 
by Mai Jia, translated by Olivia Milburn and Christopher Payne.
Allen Lane, 315 pp., £18.99, March 2014, 978 0 14 139147 2
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... will be published by Harper Collins next year, and is a better bet than Mai Jia’s potboiler. Perry Link wrote a balanced review – marginally favourable – of Decoded in the New York Times. This was difficult for Mai Jia, since Link has been banned from entering mainland China because of his translation of The ...

Such Genteel Flaming!

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘The Boat Rocker’, 13 July 2017

The Boat Rocker 
by Ha Jin.
Pantheon, 222 pp., £20, October 2016, 978 0 307 91162 9
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... of this on the back cover of the book, under the heading ‘Advance Praise for The Boat Rocker’. Perry Link (also a professor) writes an endorsement that begins: ‘Ha Jin only gets better and better … he continues with his supply of unadorned prose, as evocative as Chekhov’s and sometimes as charming as E.B. White’s.’ He ends by identifying the ...

White Happy Doves

Nikil Saval: The Real Mo Yan, 29 August 2013

by Mo Yan, translated by Howard Goldblatt.
Seagull, 117 pp., £9, October 2012, 978 0 85742 160 9
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Sandalwood Death 
by Mo Yan, translated by Howard Goldblatt.
Oklahoma, 409 pp., £16, January 2013, 978 0 8061 4339 2
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by Mo Yan, translated by Howard Goldblatt.
Seagull, 440 pp., £19.50, December 2012, 978 0 85742 076 3
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... atrocities of the regime? He did not, they said. On the contrary: he avoided any mention of them. Perry Link, a scholar of modern Chinese literature, argued that Mo Yan disguised atrocities like the famine of the Great Leap Forward with comic episodes: he made jokes about peasants having to eat strange foods but didn’t say that thirty million died of ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Tweeting at an Execution, 6 October 2011

... and there was no DNA evidence to tie the murder to Davis, but ballistic evidence suggested a link to a gun he’d used in another crime, and a number of witnesses from the car park pointed to him as having been the man in the white shirt. The fact that seven of these nine witnesses later recanted appeared to have little influence on the final ...


Sarah Perry: Victorian ‘Hospitalism’, 5 July 2018

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine 
by Lindsey Fitzharris.
Allen Lane, 304 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 26249 8
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... the history of human sickness and not yet at its end – in which Lister forms a strong and vital ...

Noticing and Not Noticing

John Mullan: Consciousness in Austen, 20 November 2014

The Hidden Jane Austen 
by John Wiltshire.
Cambridge, 195 pp., £17.99, April 2014, 978 1 107 64364 2
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... Conscious – is so impressed on the Unconscious, as to appear in it. So is the Man of Genius the Link that combines the two.’ ‘Till this moment I never knew myself,’ Elizabeth Bennet cries, somewhat stagily, as she walks alone down a Kent lane. She has just been persuaded by Mr Darcy’s letter that Wickham is a charming rogue whose lies she has all ...

Horrid Mutilation! Read all about it!

Richard Davenport-Hines: Jack the Ripper and the London Press by Perry Curtis, 4 April 2002

Jack the Ripper and the London Press 
by Perry Curtis.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 300 08872 8
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... The newspapers reek with blood.’ This media storm, and its meanings, form the subject of Perry Curtis’s carefully researched and informative study. Violence against women was so routine in Whitechapel that it’s difficult to agree when the series of murders began. The killing in April 1888 of Emma Elizabeth Smith was probably a street robbery and ...

Casuistries of Peace and War

Perry Anderson: The assumptions the Bush Administration and its critics share, 6 March 2003

... it is a simple matter of good sense to concentrate our forces on the weaker, rather than stronger, link of the Axis first. It is not because Pyongyang may, or may not, have a few rudimentary nuclear weapons, which we could easily take out, but because it can shatter Seoul in a conventional attack that we have to proceed more cautiously in bringing it down. But ...

Drones, baby, drones

Andrew Cockburn, 8 March 2012

... in Washington and the Pentagon, for whom the collapse of the USSR threatened hard times. William Perry, an affable engineer who presided over the Pentagon for much of the Clinton era, was a firm believer in remote-control systems and encouraged continued investment in them even as the post-Cold War defence budget was being slashed. His approach seemed to be ...

Are we there yet?

Seamus Perry: Tennyson, 20 January 2011

The Major Works 
by Alfred Tennyson, edited by Adam Roberts.
Oxford, 626 pp., £10.99, August 2009, 978 0 19 957276 2
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... contrarily, the poem itself is very reluctant to ‘lose the child’. ‘The child is the link thro’ the parts,’ Tennyson said, meaning that a glimpsed narrative about a child crops up in several of the lyrics he wrote to join the sections of the story together. One of these short poems, ‘The Losing of the Child’, was in the event not ...

Plain English

Denis Donoghue, 20 December 1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four: Facsimile Edition 
by George Orwell, edited by Peter Davison.
Secker, 291 pp., £25, July 1984, 9780436350221
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Nineteen Eighty-Four 
by George Orwell, edited by Bernard Crick.
Oxford, 460 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 19 818521 9
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Inside the Myth. Orwell: Views from the Left 
edited by Christopher Norris.
Lawrence and Wishart, 287 pp., £12.50, November 1984, 0 85315 599 2
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The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell 
by George Woodcock.
Fourth Estate, 287 pp., £5.95, November 1984, 0 947795 05 7
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Orwell’s London 
by John Thompson.
Fourth Estate, 119 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 947795 00 6
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... to the Clarendon Press edition, ‘than his defence of plain English and determination to link it, both logically and emotively, to freedom and truth-telling.’ More admirable? I would say ‘more suspect’. The shoddiest part of Orwell was his determination to link plain English to freedom and truth-telling. It ...

England’s Isaiah

Perry Anderson, 20 December 1990

The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas 
by Isaiah Berlin, edited by Henry Hardy.
Murray, 276 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 9780719547898
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... elision of the second two – the incompatible with the incommensurable – that is the weakest link in his position. His own writings make it clear that he cannot sustain it. The one political experience of reform of which he has written with real admiration – significantly no British episode, but the New Deal in America – he extols precisely for ...

We did and we didn’t

Seamus Perry: Are yez civilised?, 6 May 2021

On Seamus Heaney 
by R.F. Foster.
Princeton, 228 pp., £14.99, September 2020, 978 0 691 17437 2
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... could be forgiven for feeling caught up in some private argument here, but there is a covert link to be made between the case of Auden and what Heaney called ‘the matter of Ireland’. The immediate point at issue was the way Auden’s mind showed itself tugged in quite different directions. No modern poet could begin to rival him, especially in his ...

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