Danwei Model Workers

A guide to book reviews in China

The Danwei Model Worker Award is granted by Danwei editors to blogs that we feel are especially worth reading. See the full list for more fascinating material.

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Duxieren 读写人

Duxieren is an aggregator of book reviews and literary criticism. Launched in October 2008, it collects essays from China's major newspaper book supplements (The Beijing News, Southern Metropolis Daily, and Oriental Morning Post) as well as posts by a range of lit bloggers, from Huang Jiwei to Sun Zhongxu to Berlin Fang.

Although Duxieren is a decent source of criticism on Chinese literature, posts on foreign literature seem to make up a majority of the content the site aggregates. Book supplements tend to have a cosmopolitan outlook, and a number of the book bloggers are translators themselves, so the site is a convenient way to get a sense of how international literature and culture is being received in urban China.

Duxieren is maintained by Bimuyu (比目鱼), whose own blog features book reviews, calligraphy, and short fiction.

Particularly amusing is a series of fictional reviews written in 2007 and 2008. The non-existent books up for review poke fun at trends in subject matter and cover design within the publishing industry, and the reviews are entertaining commentaries on the medium itself as well as various issues in contemporary society.

For a taste, here's the conclusion of a review of The Art of Road Crossing (subtitled: "How Not to be a Laowai in China"):

After finishing The Art of Road Crossing, I could not help but gasp in admiration: a laowai who has observed so subtly and accurately the philosophy of life and rules of behavior of the Chinese people is nothing short of amazing. Reading this book may benefit the Chinese reader as well: who can say that they themselves have a complete command of "the art of road crossing?"

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