From the Old Country

Stories and Sketches of China and Taiwan

Zhong Lihe. Edited and translated by T. M. McClellan. Foreword by Zhong Tiejun

Columbia University Press

From the Old Country

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Pub Date: August 2016

ISBN: 9780231166317

336 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $28.00£22.00

Pub Date: February 2014

ISBN: 9780231166300

336 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $37.00£29.00

Pub Date: February 2014

ISBN: 9780231536493

336 Pages

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From the Old Country

Stories and Sketches of China and Taiwan

Zhong Lihe. Edited and translated by T. M. McClellan. Foreword by Zhong Tiejun

Columbia University Press

Though he lived most of his life in rural South Taiwan, Zhong Lihe spent several years in Manchuria and Peking, moving among an eclectic mix of ethnicities, social classes, and cultures. His fictional portraits unfold on Japanese battlefields and in Peking slums, as well as in the remote, impoverished hill-country villages and farms of his native Hakka districts. His scenic descriptions are deft and atmospheric, and his psychological explorations are acute. The first anthology to present his work in English, this volume features two novellas, ten short stories, and four short prose works.
This wonderful collection of stories introduces the English reader to the beautiful prose of Zhong Lihe, often regarded as the founding father of Taiwan's 'native soil literature.' Zhong's is a major voice in Taiwanese literature. His work brings out all the complexities of Taiwanese history and society: the transition from Japanese to Chinese rule, the fraught relationship with the Mainland, and the rich variety of ethnicities and languages on the island itself. In these stories, Zhong ranges from nostalgic rural idylls to harsh realist observations, mostly set in his hometown of Meinong and also drawn from his to? sojourns in occupied Peking and the puppet-state Manchuria. The English translation by T. M. McClellan masterfully captures the mood of the stories. From the Old Country is a very welcome addition to the growing body of English translations of Sinophone literature. Michel Hockx, University of London
Zhong Lihe is gifted with the authentic talent of the self-taught writer, exceptional in his ability to reach beyond class and national stereotypes, and unwisely neglected outside his native Taiwan. His translator, T. M. McClellan, is wonderfully fluent in his distinctive and wryly imaginative English; he also brings to his translation and introduction an acute literary sensibility, a highly-developed understanding of the author's life and times, and a profound knowledge of the Chinese language. This combination makes reading their book an exhilarating experience. Bonnie McDougall, author of Fictional Authors, Imaginary Audiences: Modern Chinese Literature in the Twentieth Century
These fine stories can be appreciated on at least two levels: as well-crafted and well-translated literature and as historical documents chronicling life in Taiwan under Japanese rule. The author, a Hakka-born Taiwanese, occupies a unique and favored position in Taiwan's literary history. Howard Goldblatt, coeditor of The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature
This is a valuable book; it's well-translated into good idiomatic English by T. M. McLennan and presents a moving, living picture through its vignettes of Taiwanese life in particular, perhaps without too much nostalgia for the old ways but without entirely welcoming the new ways either. Asian Review of Books
This thoughtful, scholarly apparatus accompanies a judicious selection of beautifully rendered stories and sketches… This is a fine book. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in modern Chinese literature from Taiwan. Modern Chinese Literature and Culture
Elegantly translated and expertly edited... a rare literary occasion.... Zhong's subtle, reflective, and lyrical style of writing reminds us of a combined quality and charm of Lu Xun and Shen Congwen. CLEAR (Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews)
The publication of this volume of Zhong Lihe's (1915-1960) representative works, elegantly translated and expertly edited by T. M. McClellan, is a rare literary occasion that certainly deserves applause. Lingchei Letty Chen, Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews
Foreword by Zhong Tiejun
Sources, Translations, and Acknowledgments
Translator's Introduction
Part 1: Formative Years
1. My Grandma from the Mountains
2. First Love
3. From the Old Country
Part 2: Stories from the Old Country
4. In the Willow Shade
5. Oleander
6. The Fourth Day
Part 3: Homeland
7. Zugteuzong
8. Forest Fire
9. Uncle A-Huang
10. My "Out-Law" and the Hill Songs
Part 4: Meinong Lyrics
11. My Study
12. The Grassy Bank
13. The Plow and the Sky
14. The Little Ridge
Part 5: Meinong Economics
15. Swimming and Sinking
16. Rain

Read the translator's introduction to From the Old Country:

About the Author

Zhong Lihe (1915–1960) grew up in a village in Pingtung and spent his early adulthood working on his father's remote hill farm in Meinong. In between and after, he spent considerable time in Taiwan's cities, chiefly Kaohsiung and Taipei, as well as in Mukden and Peking in Mainland China. Most of his earliest stories were written on the Mainland when he was in his mid to late-twenties, and many of those are set in Manchuria and China. His work realistically and humanely critiques and celebrates the problems and riches of the communities and cultures he knew, particularly the Hakka Chinese peasantry of his native rural South Taiwan.

T. M. McClellan was born in Edinburgh and grew up in Tweeddale in the Scottish Borders. He earned his bachelor's and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Edinburgh and specialized in modern Chinese literature. He is the author of Zhang Henshui and Popular Chinese Fiction, 1919–1949.

Zhong Tiejun is Zhong Lihe's third and only surviving son. He is known as a literary writer on family and Meinong affairs.