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Loud Sparrows: Contemporary Chinese Short-Shorts [Hardcover]

Howard Goldblatt , Aili Mu , Julie Chiu

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Book Description

Oct. 24 2006 Weatherhead Books on Asia

Extremely short stories-known as short-shorts-have become a global phenomenon, but nowhere have they been embraced as enthusiastically as in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The form's artistic and aesthetic freedoms allow authors to capture the tone, texture, and chaos of their rapidly changing societies in infinitely inventive ways. Fragments and contingencies reveal unofficial histories, undocumented memories, and the trials of everyday individuals, and the genre's lean format is a welcome antidote to a culture characterized by rampant excess.

Loud Sparrows is a spirited collection of ninety-one short-shorts written by Chinese authors over the past three decades. Presenting diverse voices and perspectives by writers both well known and new to the art, the stories are culled from newspapers, magazines, literary journals, and personal collections. Their subjects range from the mundane to the sublime and illuminate everything from humanist ideals to traditional virtues to the material benefits of a commercialized society. The anthology is organized into thematic categories such as Change, Creatures, (In)fidelities, Grooming, Governance, Nourishment, and Weirdness, and includes notes to better understand the genre. Each section is introduced by an original piece of flash fiction written by Howard Goldblatt.

The short-short, to borrow a Chinese saying, is "small as a sparrow but has all the vital organs" of a good story. Loud Sparrows offers a comprehensive introduction to a unique literary genre that has revolutionized world literature.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (Oct. 24 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231138482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231138482
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,099,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Beautiful and thought-provoking.

(Los Angeles Times)

The pieces are varied, lively, often charming, and occasionally brilliant.

(Perry Link New York Review of Books)

It's well worth dipping into (repeatedly).

(The Complete Review)

Beautiful and thought-provoking... A breeze of aesthetic freedom flows through all of them, making them fun to read.

(Susan Salter Los Angeles Times)

Funny, touching, intriguing and sometimes very beautifully... They are tiny vignettes of Chinese life in all its entire chaotic splendour.

(Jenny Niven Time Out Beijing)

Loud Sparrows is a delightful collection of short-shorts.

(Steve Noyes The Vancouver Sun)


Loud Sparrows, with its balanced treatment of short-shorts from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong and its inclusion of works by well-known fiction writers, offers a major step forward in a largely untouched field of Chinese literature available in translation. It shows off short-shorts at their finest-carefully crafted works that take advantage of the challenge of the tight space limitations inherent to the genre.

(Steven L. Riep, Brigham Young University)

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