English novelist and Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason has compiled a top-ten list of books on China he found helpful for his novel Rare Earth (here’s a review of the novel by scholar-translator Julia Lovell), comprising five works of fiction in translation (including Lu Xun 魯迅, Mo Yan 莫言, Gao Xingjian 高行健, Wang Xiaobo 王小波, and The Plum in the Golden Vase 金瓶梅–and he mentions the translators!) and five works of social science or historical or literary scholarship (including a work by friend and follower of this blog, Charles Laughlin).
It’s an interesting list. I’m glad to see literature in translation so well represented. As a novelist, it makes sense that Mason would be so drawn to fiction, but I wonder what it would take for works of Chinese poetry to make it onto such a list. Certainly I think Xi Chuan can be helpful for readers looking to know more about China, though of course the instruction does not travel in direct lines.