Zhang Lijia

Zhang Lijia, Ian Johnson and Howard French made it to the top-25 of China books of the Signature website of the US literary agency with the same name. The authors are praised, as they help to move away from the classic monolithic picture the West had from China.


The way we conceptualize China in the West is a bit like the country’s Great Wall: our views are monolithic, defensive, and fairly impenetrable. The West’s existential fears of communism, coupled with China’s rising military and economic clout, suggests there’s little chance we’ll see the country as anything but a threat in the years to come.

China certainly hasn’t made it easy to dispel our one-dimensional ways, however: The country’s rule of law often runs counter to countless principles democracies hold dear, they maintain close ties to North Korea, and their Great Firewall is an affront to free speech.

Then again, heaven knows a country’s political reputation in no way represents the will and intent of its people, and it’s always hard to empathize when you look at the mass and not the individual. So in an effort to better understand China — politically, historically, culturally, personally — Signature is holding up twenty-five books as important entryways into a country whose global influence demands that you pay a little more attention and care to your own preconceived notions.


The following books made it to the list:

Our congratulations.

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