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Author Topic: english chinese book corner  (Read 25361 times)
luiz_iniciante
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« on: December 21, 2013, 10:19:29 PM »

As I will be likely be (happily) spending a few more years in China, I have decided to learn something about my adopted home. I would like to know which books people have enjoyed with China as their subject. History, politics, memoir, I am open to just about any genre, as long as it is in English or accessible to someone with intermediate chinese.
       To kick things off here are two of my own favorites: 'Mr. China' by Tim Clissold and 'Chinese Lessons' by John Pomfret.   
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luiz_iniciante
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2014, 04:44:47 PM »

For those who enjoy reading about China, here are some interesting long form pieces, past and present. I will try to update the list from time to time. If anyone else has some good reads that are remotely China related please put up the links.

Kept Women: Mistresses are big business in China, where no official is a real man without his own ernai. What’s in it for the girls?
http://aeon.co/magazine/living-together/why-young-women-in-rural-china-become-the-mistresses-of-wealthy-older-men/

The Great K-Hole of China
http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/the-great-k-hole-of-china

Year of the Pigskin: My hilarious, heartbreaking, triumphant season with the American Football League of China
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117246/chinese-football-my-season-chongqing-dockers

Paddled: Playing Ping Pong in China
http://www.gq.com/sports/profiles/201209/ping-pong-china-christopher-beam

Some of the articles touch on hot-button issues, such as drugs and mistresses. Thoughtful comments welcome. But puh-lease, no rants.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2014, 04:52:54 PM by luiz_iniciante » Logged
luiz_iniciante
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2014, 11:41:35 AM »

There was a similar debate over outgoing US ambassador Gary Locke who is ethnically Chinese. As far as I could tell, he was liked by the youth of the nation, though unpopular with the government.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/03/china_writer_racist_farewell_to_gary_locke

https://www.chinafile.com/racist-farewell-outgoing-us-ambassador-gary-locke

My 2 毛: I agree that to be a successful diplomat or businessman/woman in China one probably doesn't need to know the language. One may even go so far as to say that because knowing the language tends to endear foreign politicians to the people, it actually antagonizes Beijing. 
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Aussie Mike
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2014, 12:34:28 AM »

Oh! I want one.
 My brain just went into overload.
 What can't you make with this technology?  Grin


Love the printer!
That printer prints money!




« Last Edit: April 29, 2014, 12:46:33 AM by Aussie Mike » Logged

Ventures and Partners
MeiYouPengYou
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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2014, 11:54:51 AM »

World's ugliest house  Cry
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A new hope with regards to life's feast.
Aussie Mike
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2014, 02:45:46 PM »

Oh, but these are prototype,  just to show off the technology.
Can be formed into any shape using a variety of materials.
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luiz_iniciante
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2014, 10:16:11 AM »

A couple of good (at least I think so) titles for the bookworms among us:

Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China's New Rich by John Osburg

Behind the Red Door: Sex in China by Richard Burger

The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor

China in Ten Words by Yu Hua
« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 12:12:46 PM by luiz_iniciante » Logged
luiz_iniciante
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« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2014, 02:48:56 PM »

Naturally, one of the great ways to learn chinese and about China is simply to listen. Below are some of my favorite radio programs and podcasts that either deal directly with China or indirectly with it in discussions about North East Asia.

English Language Podcasts

http://popupchinese.com/lessons/sinica/
Sinica Podcast: A weekly show during which various journalists, historians, economists and other China experts debate the issues of the day in a lively manner.  

http://chinahistorypodcast.com/
China History Podcast: A show which deals with various historical matters, from modern to ancient. Succeeds in making it all interesting and stick in your mind.

http://newbooksineastasianstudies.com/list/
New Books in East Aisa: Interviews with authors on their books about Asia. Most of the interviewees are academics and the reading list itself should be required for anyone aspiring to become an old China hand.

http://feeds.koreasociety.org/tkspodcasts
Korea Society Podcasts: Not strictly about China, but worth a listen given Korea's enormous cultural influence in the region. I particularly enjoy the programs dealing with China's wayward ally, the DPRK.

http://www.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/videoAndAudio/channels/publicLecturesAndEvents/Home.aspx
LSE Podcast: Again not exclusively about China, but occassionally features lectures by some heavy weight academics on China-related matters.

Billingual Radio Programs
    
http://english.cri.cn/easyfm/index.htm
Cri Ez Fm: A mixture of english and chinese language programming, featuring bi-lingual hosts who frequently switch between the two languages. Great for those with intermediate level chinese who want to build up their listening skills.

http://newsradio.cri.cn/
Cri Online: Largely chinese language programming on culture and the arts with bi-lingual hosts. Requires a higher-level of chinese than the above, but worthwhile.
 
Chinese Language Radio Programs

http://a.hebradio.com/13/prog13390.html
叶文有话要说: A call-in show where people discuss their personal problems with an agony aunt. A totally absorbing and oftentimes handwringing, dismaying and downright heartbreaking window on contemporary life here.  


« Last Edit: May 14, 2014, 11:51:41 AM by luiz_iniciante » Logged
luiz_iniciante
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« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2014, 11:36:54 PM »

From the pages of the Tea Leaf Nation, China from top to bottom:

http://www.tealeafnation.com/2014/04/a-guide-to-social-class-in-modern-china/
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luiz_iniciante
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« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2014, 05:36:24 PM »

... Now for some more unsolicited advice, this time about learning the chinese language.  

In reality, though, at least in this matter, I am much more interested in recieving advice than dispensing it. I like hearing from foreigners who have mastered the language about the materials and strategies they employed. And I try to collect as much material as I can whenever I visit bookshops, even though most of it just sits on my bookshelf awaiting a day when I will be free enough to look through it.

The best advice on learning languages comes from the Master himself, once described as the strangest man in history, Richard F. Burton:

http://mplsesl.wikispaces.com/file/view/Sir+Richard+Burtons-language-learning-methods.pdf

My own view of learning chinese (and here I write with the unimpeachable authority of a total amateur) is that the difficulty of the language is somewhat exaggerated. But because of it has so many aspects, many of which are not closely integrated (writing and pronunciation, for instance), it requires committment, discipline and a lot of rote learning. And even after one is competent in its various strands, he still has to try to pull the whole thing together. One can't just pick up and read a Chinese novel the way one can with a Spanish or French novel after a few months of study.

 Here's a rather more expert take on the matter:

http://www.pinyin.info/readings/texts/moser.html

From what I hear, it takes about two years full time study to become proficient in the language i.e. hold one's own in a general conversation about almost any non-technical subject. If you have a job (like I do) and can only study in your spare time, I would double that time to about 4 years.

Everyone has an approach which suits him/her best. The one that I prefer first concentrates heavily on learning the 汉子 and building up vocubulary. My impression is that those who start speaking first find it difficult to get their reading and writing skills to catch up. And trying to do it all is simply too much; those reading and writing skills really need a headstart.

In keeping with the above, I think that the best textbooks are the ones that have a narrow focus and deal with grammar, writing, vocubalary etc. individually. A single comprehensive book that tries to teach everything doesn't make enough headway quickly enough and is harder to tailor to one's needs.  

Just my (unasked for) two cents.

Below is a list of books and resources I have found to be the most useful.

General Overview:

The Chinese Language: Its History and Current Usage
by Daniel Kane


Vocubulary:

Remembering Simplified Hanzi: Book 1, How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters
by James W. Heisig  and Timothy W. Richardson

Remembering Simplified Hanzi: Book 2, How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters
by James W. Heisig  and Timothy W. Richardson

HSK-One Hour Per Day To A Powerful HSK Vocabulary (Vols. I-III)
by Sinolingua Press

A Compendium of the Usage of Complex Chinese Words
by Sinolingua Press

Textbooks:

Panorama of Chinese Culture - Intermediate Chinese Course (Vols I-II)
by Shi Ji

新思路商务汉语规划教材•商务汉语综合教程
by 仇鸿伟

Pronunciation:

汉语语音100点
by 王芳 and 谭春健

Websites:

http://www.melnyks.com/

http://www.youdao.com/

http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php

Novels:

棋王.樹王.孩子王

by 阿城

« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 11:46:44 AM by luiz_iniciante » Logged
luiz_iniciante
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2014, 12:01:26 PM »

Not China related, but still rich pickings for the culture vultures among us:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/05/slightly-more-than-100-fantastic-pieces-of-journalism/284564/
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luiz_iniciante
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2014, 01:17:35 PM »

Far be it from me to tell others how to lead their lives, but what if I told you that the link below will take you to a podcast discussing the contemporary Chinese movie scene:

http://popupchinese.com/lessons/sinica/sinica-goes-to-the-movies

In the Notes, there is a list of worthwhile Chinese films. I have not seen all of them, but a few standouts I would definitely certify as 'fresh' are:

1. Raise the Red Lantern / 大红灯笼高高挂 directed by Zhang Yimou / 张艺谋  (1991)

2. In the Heat of the Sun / 阳光灿烂的日子 directed by Jiang Wen / 姜文 (1994)

3. Devils on the Doorstep / 鬼子来了 directed by Jiang Wen / 姜文  (2000)

4. Keep Cool / 有话好好说 directed by Zhang Yimou / 张艺谋 (1997)

5. Peacock / 孔雀 directed by Gu Changwei / 顾长卫  (2005)


I always think the 90s to have been a kind of golden age in Chinese cinema, whereas the Chinese films in the cinema today seem to me to be largely empty spectacle; romcoms, police thrillers, martial arts epics etc with great production values, but lacking in spirit. Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against genre. But when you look back at films like 'A Better Tomorrow' you see that dumb fun can be quite spirited, even soulful. Filmmakers and laymen alike try to blame SARFT and the censors for this state of affairs, but I think it has more to do with the spirit of the times.

Be all that as it may... I can think of a few more Chinese language films off the top of my head that are worth seeing:

1. Suzhou River / 苏州河 directed by Lou Ye / 娄烨  (1999)

2. Tempting Heart / 心动 directed by Sylvia Chang / 张艾嘉 (1999)

3. If You Are the One / 非诚勿扰 directed by Feng Xiaogang / 冯小刚 (2008)

4. Infernal Affairs / 无间道 directed by Andrew Lau & Alan Mak/ 刘伟强 & 麦兆辉  (2002)

5. Spring in a Small Town / 小城之春 directed by Fei Mu / 费穆 (1948)

6. Love Is Not Blind / 失恋33天 directed by Teng Huatao / 滕华涛  (2011)

7. Finding Mr. Right / 北京遇上西雅图 directed by Xue Xiaolu / 薛晓璐  (2013)
 
8. The Wedding Banquet / 喜宴 directed by  Ang Lee / 李安(1993)

One last recommendation I have is:

1. Yearings /渴望 directed by  鲁晓威 (1991)
 
It's not a movie but a 90s era soap opera. Compared to it, the soap operas of today, both domestic and imported, look positively anemic.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2014, 01:29:54 PM by luiz_iniciante » Logged
computer_says_no
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« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2014, 12:23:49 PM »

Time Out has just released a list of 100 Best Mainland films, as chosen by 88 international film experts.
http://www.timeoutshanghai.com/feature/1031/The-100-best-Mainland-Chinese-films.html
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