PRINT December 2015


Beatrice Galilee

Chutzpah! New Voices from China (University of Oklahoma Press) is a collection of short fiction and nonfiction gleaned from the now-discontinued Chinese literary magazine of the same (beautifully incongruous) name. Founded in 2010 by the Beijing-based artist, poet, documentary filmmaker, and curator Ou Ning, Chutpzah! was inspired in part by the output of US literary magazines McSweeney’s, A Public Space, and n+1. This anthology, edited by Ou and translated by Austin Woerner, gives voice to talented yet lesser-known Chinese writers, reflecting the complexity and nuance ever present in Chinese culture but often underrepresented in the discourse around the nation’s supersonic urban development. During the course of the magazine’s production, Ou himself moved with his close family (including his mother, brother, and soon-to-be wife) to Bishan, a remote rural village in China’s Huizhou region, where he saw firsthand the struggles of farm life and the devastating effects of urban migration as well as the touristic and cultural potential of these places of natural beauty. He was not unaware of the ironies involved in his own inadvertent participation in the ongoing process of gentrification through the art projects, bookshops, and other cultural production he generated in the region. The stories that sing out in this collection—those of more obscure places and people—uniquely fit the peculiarities of the vast country. They are heartfelt, witty, sharp, odd, anguished, optimistic, and rueful; new voices for China indeed.

Beatrice Galilee is the Daniel Brodsky Associate Curator of Architecture and Design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.