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Chinese literature - viewing this emerging superpower through its novels

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 20 January 2013

In October the Nobel prize for Literature was awarded to Mo Yan, the pen name of the Chinese novelist Guan Moye. Mo Yan translates as 'Don't speak' , a warning given to him by his parents during the Cultural Revolution. His latest novel translated into English, Pow!, is set in Slaughterhouse village and tells the story of a rural community obsessed with meat and the deadly extent they will go to in order to maximise a profit in animal flesh. Mo Yan's translator Howard Goldblatt and novelist and film maker Xiaolu Guo discuss the nature of Chinese literature and how much Mo Yan and his fellow contemporary Chinese novelists can teach us about life inside this emerging world force.In the imaginary town of Heathwick a series of bombs are about to explode killing, maiming and destroying lives among the residents. However it's not the aftermath of these cataclysmic events that Eleanor Updale, the acclaimed author of the Montmorency books for children explores, but the sixty seconds leading up to them. In her latest novel, The Last Minute, each chapter charts the passage of a mere second as we journey toward disaster with her doomed cast. As readers we're aware that a tragedy is going to strike, but not to whom or indeed the cause of the explosion to come.Literary critic Suzi Feay delves into the world of the debut novel and examines the latest Waterstones' 11 list of new fiction writers, how well their past predictions have done and why she feels now is a good time to be a debut novelist.Producer: Andrea Kidd.

  • Read the Opening Chapter of The Last Minute by Eleanor Updale

  • Booklist

    Chinese literature:

    Pow! – Mo Yan Translated by Howard Goldblatt
    Publisher: Seagull Books

    UFO in Her Eyes – Xiaolu Guo
    Publisher: Chatto & Windus

    A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers – Xiaolu Guo
    Publisher: Vintage

    Other books mentioned by Xiaolu Guo:

    Dream of Ding Village – Yan Lianke
    Publisher: Corsair

    To Live – Hua Yu, Yu Hua
    Publisher: Anchor Books

    Raise the Red Lantern – Su Tong
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd

    Suzi Feay:

    Suzi Feay: The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones – Jack Wolf
    Publisher: Chatto & Windus

    Seldom Seen – Sarah Ridgard
    Publisher: Hutchinson Waterstones

    Waterstones 11 debut novels lists, as mentioned by Suzi Feay:

    Waterstones 11

    Pig’s Foot by Carlos Acosta (Bloomsbury, 30th October)
    Idiopathy by Sam Byers (Fourth Estate, 25th April)
    Y by Marjorie Celona (Faber and Faber, 17th January)
    The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence (Hodder & Stoughton, 31st January)
    Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Picador, 29th August)
    The Fields by Kevin Maher (Little, Brown, 7th March)
    The Son by Michel Rostain (Tinder Press, 23rd May)
    The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland, 27th June)
    Marriage Material by Sathnam Sanghera (William Heinemann, 26th September)
    Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi (Viking, 4th April)
    Ballistics by D.W. Wilson (Bloomsbury, 1st August)


    The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
    Absolution by Patrick Flanery
    Shelter by Frances Greenslade
    The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
    The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
    The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen
    Signs of Life by Anna Raverat
    The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
    The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
    Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles

    City of Bohane by Kevin Barry
    The Free World by David Bezmozgis
    The Registrar’s Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages by Sophie Hardach
    22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
    Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka
    Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
    The Coincidence Engine by Sam Leith
    The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
    The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud
    The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed
    When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman


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