Paper Republic: Chinese Literature Matters

More Chinese books in London! Arthur Probsthain’s Bookshop

By Helen Wang, published

My surprise last week at the Chinese New Year display and stock of Chinese fiction at Watermark Books in King's Cross Station was because most bookshops in London stock very few Chinese books (and then mostly on the X,Y,Z shelf). What's more, the staff usually know next-to-nothing about the Chinese fiction they're selling (Mo Yan? Who?). The exception is Arthur Probsthain Bookshop (known to locals as Probsthain’s) which always has a range of Chinese fiction on display and for sale, not just at Chinese New Year, and has knowledgeable staff.

Arthur Probsthain Bookshop specialises in Asian, Middle Eastern and African books, and is located at 41 Great Russell Street, opposite the British Museum. The business was founded in 1902 on Bury Place (round the corner) and has been at its current location since 1903. It is still a family-run business. Recently refurbished, there is now a bookshop and gallery at street level, and a very nice café called Tea and Tattle downstairs. There’s also a branch of Probsthain’s at the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), a short walk away. Michael Sheringham, the great-nephew of Arthur Probsthain, has supplied details of the Chinese fiction currently on display for Chinese New Year.

From Michael Sheringham:
Arthur Probsthain Bookshop, 41 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3PE ( Tel: 0207 636 1096)

Here is a selection of books that we are displaying in our bookshop as we welcome in the Year of the Snake. I am happy to feature in our shop some titles of (mainly contemporary) Chinese literature, which are not widely available or known to the public. Cypress Books in London, importing Chinese books from China, have supplied many of these books to us, but we also stock other titles (and if the book you’re looking for isn’t on the list, please ask):

Ai Mi, Under the Hawthorn Tree, tr. Anna Holmwood (Virago, 2011).

Anni Baobei, The Road of Others, stories of love and illusion in Shanghai, tr. Nicky Harman and Keiko Wong - Modern Chinese Masters series – (Make-Do Publishing, Hong Kong).

Ba Jin, Autumn (simplified modern novel in Chinese and pinyin for students), with MP3. (Sinolingua, London, 2008).

Chi Li and others, The Life Show. Authors include Tie Ning, Chen Jiangong and Li Zhaozheng, tr. Vivian H. Zhang (Long River Press, San Francisco, 2012).

Gang Yi and others, The Story of Mulan - Daughter and Warrior (Sunny Publ. 2007) – children’s illustrated book.

Gu Hua, Virgin Widows, tr. Howard Goldblatt (University of Hawaii Press, 1985).

He Jianming, Chinese Literature, Vol. 1. Authors include Tie Ning, Han Shaogong and Zhangling, various translators (New World Press, Beijing. 2012).

Lam, Laam, The Border Town (MM Publ. 2012) – children’s illustrated books, English and Chinese versions.

Lam, Laam, The Story of the Stone (MM Publ. 2010) - children's illustrated books, English and Chinese versions.

Li Bing, Dialogue with Twenty Contemporary Chinese Writers, including Bo Yang, Mo Yan, Shi Tiesheng, Tie Ning, Hong Ying, Wang Meng and Chen Zhongshi (Foreign Languages Press, 2011).

Li Jingze (ed.), The Great Masque, and more stories of life in the city. Authors include Tie Ning, Wang Anyi and Xu Kun, various translators (Foreign Languages Press, 2008).

Liang Qing and others, The Girl Named Luo Shan and Other Stories. Authors include Wang Anyi, Jia Pingwa, and Zhang Xin, tr. Vivian H. Zhang (Long River Press, San Francisco, 2012).

Liu Tao (ed.), Street Wizards, and Other New Folklore. Authors include Ah Cheng, Feng Jicai and Chi Zijian, various translators (Foreign Languages Press, 2009).

Liu Xiaolin, 101 Ancient Chinese Poems - Gems of the Chinese Language through the Ages (Sinolingua, London, 2012).

Mo Yan, The Garlic Ballads, tr. Howard Goldblatt (Methuen, 2006).

Mo Yan, Big Breasts and Wide Hips, tr. Howard Goldblatt (Methuen, 2006).

Mo Yan, Red Sorghum, tr. Howard Goldblatt (Arrow Books, 1992).

Mo Yan, Fengru Feitun (Big Breasts and Wide Hips). Shanghai Art & Literature Publishers, 1996. In Chinese.

Mo Yan - 6 others of his novels in Chinese. Shanghai Art & Literature Publishers.

Jimmy Qi, Yu Li: Confessions of an Elevator Operator, tr. Harvey Thomlinson (Modern Chinese Masters series) Make-Do Publishing, Hong Kong.

Knife in Clear Water, with stories by Shi Tiesheng, Yan Lianke and Gao Xiaosheng, tr. Vivian H. Zhang (Long River Press, San Francisco, 2012).

Shi Zhanjun (ed.), The Mud Boot Wedding, and other ethnic minority stories. Authors include Liu Yiping (Miao), Ma Jinlian ((Hui) and Long Renqing (Tibetan), various translators (Foreign Languages Press, 2009).

Sun Huifen and others, The Women from Horse Resting Villa and Other Stories. Authors include Jia Pingwa, Wang Zengqi and Zhou Daxin, tr. Vivian H. Zhang (Long River Press, San Francisco. 2012).

Tie Ning, Haysticks, tr. Denis Mair (Foreign Languages Press, Panda Book series, Beijing 2005).

Xie Youshun (ed.), Plum Raindrops, and More Stories about Youth. Authors include Wu Xuan, Li Shasha and Zhang Xueran, various translators (Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 2008).

Zhang Yiwu (ed.), Going to Town, and Other Rural Stories. Authors include Chen Zhongshi, Wang Xiangfu and Mo Yue. various translators (Foreign Languages Press, 2009).


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