While the rest of Shanghaiist looks over the past year, Shanghaiist Books looks to the future at the most-highly anticipated books of 2014. At least, the first few months of 2014, as we don’t actually have exact publishing dates for all of the books published all through next year.
Please note that we have not actually read any of these books. They are simply the ones we are most excited to read.
5. Van Gogh on Demand: China and the Readymade by Winnie Won Yin Wong
Coming at number 5, Van Gogh on Demand easily wins the title of Academic Book We Are Actually Really Interested In. Wong is an art historian who investigates Dafen, a suburb of Shenzhen known for its cottage industry of hand-painted reproductions of famous Western oil paintings. According to the blurb, the book will explore “big questions about the definition of art, the ownership of an image, and the meaning of originality and imitation”, but just as importantly, it looks fun! Wong goes to work as an art dealer and an apprentice painter in Dafen, and travels all over Europe, Asia, and North America, talking to both highfalutin art world people and the migrants who go to Dafen dreaming of making it big. Van Gogh on Demand will be published by University of Chicago in January.
4. Debating China: The U.S.-China Relationship in Ten Conversations, edited by Nina Hachigian
The number of books that come out each year on the U.S.-China relationship every year is staggering. And so it probably should be, as this relationship is almost certainly the most important bilateral international relationship going forward in the next however long. Debating China, though, stands out for its format. Each chapter takes the form of a two-way back-and-forth dialogue between a pair of scholars, one American and one Chinese, on a given topic. Debating China will be published by Oxford University Press in January.
3. Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground by Emily Parker
Ever since the internet has been around, it has been touted as a tool for dissidents to use against undemocratic governments. In recent years, since the Green Movement in Iran in 2009, and especially during the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, the self-congratulatory sentiment that the internet is a force for freedom has been parroted everywhere, ad nauseum. This book, though, promises to really explore these fascinating issues with actual, substantial reporting and research. The book will focus on dissidents in China, Russia, and Cuba. Now I Know Who My Comrades Are will be published by Sarah Crichton Books in February.
2. The Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos
Evan Osnos was the longtime Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker and anyone who has followed his work over the years, such as his story about corruption at the Ministry of Railways, or the one where he visits Europe with a Chinese tour group, has got to be excited for The Age of Ambition, his first book, which will be out in May, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
1. Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China by Leta Hong Fincher
There’s been much written about women in China, and in particular about the so-called “leftover women”, middle class women who end up marrying later or not marrying at all. Many truisms about the “leftover women” get tossed around in both Chinese and foreign media, and it seems sometimes like Leta Hong Fincher is the only one out there doing the work to see what’s really going with these women. Her piece for the Spring 2013 issue of Dissent left us hungry for the book, which will be published by Zed Books in April.