For the Los Angeles Review of Books
As the Nobel awards approached, the Asia editors at Los Angeles Review of Books wanted to check in with Yu Hua, the spirited Chinese author of Chronicle of a Blood Merchant, To Live, and Brothers, among others, who also has a short story collection, Boy in the Twilight: Stories of the Hidden China, coming out in January. But Yu didn’t want to talk about the Nobel — “Let’s talk about literature instead. It’s more important.” Thus, Los Angeles Review of Books Asia Co-editor Megan Shank and Yu exchanged Chinese-language e-mails about history’s most over- and underrated Chinese writers, the evolution of an ancient language and why Yu will never read Anna Karenina on a cell phone. Below, Shank’s translation of excerpts from their conversation.