Year in Review: Books, Books, Books

As 2010 draws to a close, many media outlets have begun releasing their year-end “best of” lists. We always take a careful look at these to see which China-related titles appear, and have seen more than a few familiar names pop up. At the New York Times, the “100 Notable Books of 2010” include Peter Hessler’s Country Driving and Yunte Huang’s biography of Charlie Chan, as well as Pearl Buck in China: Journey to The Good Earth by Hilary Spurling. Spurling’s work is also celebrated by Margaret Drabble at The Guardian, while both Pankaj Mishra and AS Byatt include Yiyun Li’s short story collection, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, on their Guardian lists. “Books of the Year” at The Economist included The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor, Country Driving, Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 by Frank Dikötter, and Pearl Buck in China.

We’d also like to draw the attention of China Beatniks to another recently lauded book: Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange by Alexander C.Y. Huang, which won the Modern Language Association’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies. Competing against titles from all fields of comparative literature (not just Asian), Chinese Shakespeares was recognized for its innovative approach to examining the movement of cultural forms across space. In its citation commending his work, the award committee notes that Huang “examines the way movement across geographical and geopolitical fault lines reaches into cultural forms and changes their meanings from the inside, often revealing possibilities that had lain dormant, unnoticed, or submerged in the texts’ cultures of origin.”

Huang, a faculty member in Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Comparative Literature, is also a co-founder and co-editor of two digital archives, Global Shakespeares and Shakespeare Performance in Asia. To learn more about Chinese Shakespeares, see Colin Mackerras’s review of the book at MCLC, as well as “Old Man Sha in the Middle Kingdom,” an article about Huang’s work at Research Penn State.

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