What China Is Reading and Why It Matters
What does contemporary China’s diverse and exciting fiction tell us about its culture, and the relationship between art and politics?
The Subplot takes us on a lively journey through a literary landscape like you’ve never seen before: a vast migrant-worker poetry movement, homoerotic romances by “rotten girls,” swaggering literary popstars, millionaire e-writers churning out the longest-ever novels, underground comics, the surreal works of Yu Hua, Yan Lianke, and Nobel-laureate Mo Yan, and what is widely hailed as a golden-age of sci-fi. Chinese online fiction is now the largest publishing platform in the world.
Fueled by her passionate engagement with the arts and ideas of China’s people, Megan Walsh, a brilliant young critic, shows us why it's important to finally pay attention to Chinese fiction—an exuberant drama that illustrates the complex relationship between art and politics, one that is increasingly shaping the West as well. Turns out, writers write neither what their government nor foreign readers want or expect, as they work on a different wavelength to keep alive ideas and events that are censored by the propaganda machine. The Subplot vividly captures the way in which literature offers an alternative—perhaps truer—way to understanding the contradictions that make up China itself.
This book is published with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.