Posted by Joel Martinsen on Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 11:10 PM
Beijing Literature (北京文学) celebrates its sixtieth anniversary with the September, 2010 issue. Like other magazines launched in the early days of the People's Republic, Beijing Literature had a rocky first few decades.
The magazine was launched on September 10, 1950 as Beijing Literature and Arts (北京文艺) with Lao She as editor-in-chief and Wang Zengqi as head of the editorial department. The following year, the Beijing Federation of Literary and Art Circles decided to shut it down so that its staff could devote their energies to Story-Singing (说说唱唱), which had launched in January, 1950, under the stewardship of Zhao Shuli.
Story-Singing published its final issue just a few years later in March, 1955, after which the Federation restored the name Beijing Literature and Arts and began publishing a wider range of content. Lao She took over as editor. He described the magazine's mission in his remarks in the relaunch issue:
Lao She remained editor-in-chief until the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, when the vast majority of the country's magazines ceased publishing. Lao She himself died on this date, August 24, in 1966, drowning himself in Beijing's Taiping Lake (for an exhaustive compilation of interviews on the issues surrounding Lao She's suicide, see Oral Records of the Death of Lao She 老舍之死口述实录).
In 1971, rechristened Beijing New Literature and Arts (北京新文艺), the magazine became the first literary periodical in the country to resume publishing. Its pre-Cultural Revolution name was restored in 1973, and it became the present Beijing Literature in October, 1980. During this time, the magazine was headed by a "primary person in charge" (主要负责人); the position of editor-in-chief was only filled in 1981.
Beijing Literature was central to the debate surrounding a number of literary movements in the 1980s and 1990s, including pseudo-modernism in the late 80s and the "good fiction" movement in the late 90s.
The 60th anniversary commemorative issue includes reflections by a number of major authors on their history with Beijing Literature, as well as original fiction including a new novella by Cao Naiqian, whose five vignettes published under the title "When I Think of You Late at Night, There's Nothing I Can Do" appeared in the June 1988 issue of the magazine after receiving high praise from Wang Zengqi.
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The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.