How dull to have a gun and not shoot. Guns should be fired.

Fu Yuli / Nicky Harman

Yu Qiuyu


YU Qiuyu is one of, if not the most, well-known contemporary Chinese cultural and literary figures. With an enormous readership in China and overseas, his cultural explorations link China with the rest of the world and his bold and direct criticisms of certain cultural phenomena make him loved and detested in equal measure.

List of Published Works

Few book lovers in China don't know the name of Yu. In total, he has published six books of short prose and essays. Four have been on the list of top ten bestsellers of Chinese books in the past decade, making Yu the highest paid author in China. None of Yu’s work has been translated into English, so far, although he has lectured in the West.

文化苦旅》A Bitter Journey Through Culture , 1992. Read sample translation here. 《山居筆記》Notes From the Hills 1995 《霜冷長河》Cold River 1999 《千年一嘆》A Sigh Of a Thousand Years 2000 《行者無疆》Travel No End 2001 《借我一生》A Life Borrowed 2004

His books have been awarded numerous prizes, including Chinese National Writers Lu Shun Prize, China Publisher Prize, Shanghai Outstanding Literary Work, Taiwan Reader Best Book (Two Consecutive Years), Jin Shi Tong Most Influential Book Award, Taiwan Platinum Author Award and Most Popular Author Award in Malaysia.

These prose works have aroused the passions of many Chinese intellectuals, while critics have commented that Yu is China’s last great prose writer of the 20th century. His name will be forever linked with the promotion of public understanding of Chinese and world cultures.


Born in 1946 in China's Zhejiang province, after graduating from the literature department of the Shanghai Theatre Academy in 1968, Yu became the youngest art professor in mainland Chinese history at age 39 in 1985, causing a great stir at the time. Later, he became the head of Shanghai Theater Academy and published a series of academic works for which he received numerous national awards.

Although successful in his academic career, Yu felt he need to focus on Chinese culture and began a journey across China, visiting most of the cultural heritage sites in the country. His ensuing publication, "A Bitter Journey Through Culture," became a huge hit immediately following its first publication in 1992. The book became a cultural icon for Chinese readers, and his reflections on Chinese culture and his emotional writing style popularized a new literary style called the "cultural meditation essay" and a new phenomenon termed “YU Qiuyu culture”.

Yu then embarked on another journey to visit the cradles of three great civilizations of the world. In 1999, Yu, along with Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV, visited a dozen countries, including Greece, Egypt, Israel and India. His travel notes and personal reflections of these civilizations were collected into another book called " A Sigh Of a Thousand Years." In the six months after that, he traveled to another 26 countries on his own and completed his book "Travel No End."

In 2004, he was selected by Beijing University and China Talent Editorial as one of the top ten artistic talents of China and the representative of Chinese culture. In 2005, he was the only Chinese scholar invited to attend UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Forum. His book tours in Taiwan in 2005 attracted thousands of readers and the Taiwan media described his arrival as ‘the unimaginable YU Qiuyu tornado.” In recent years, he has been invited to lecture on Chinese culture and world civilization at prestigious institutions, including Harvard University, Yale University, University of Madrid and Washington Congress Library.