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October 2014: Chen Xiwo 陈希我

chen xiwo


One of the most outspoken voices in contemporary Chinese literature, Chen's fiction - exploring social and sexual corruption, impotence, voyeurism, and incest - is not for the faint-hearted. His work has been nominated for several awards, and in 2001 he won the Chinese Literature Media Prize for Dissipation (我们苟且). In 2010, an English translation of the controversial novella I Love My Mum (遮蔽) was released by Make-Do Publishing.


Make-Do Studios has received English PEN funding for a translation by Nicky Harman of The Book of Sins (冒犯书), ten interlinked stories that make up a disturbing picture of a dysfunctional society.

The story we'll be reading and discussing this month is 'The Man With the Knife' (带刀的男人), an intense and claustrophobic tale of power relations played out over the course of one evening. The English translation, by Nicky Harman, was originally published on Words Without Borders and they've kindly given their permission for us to reprint it here.

You'll also be able to hear a recording of Chen reading his work, and of Nicky reading her translation. (Apologies for the sound quality on the Chinese recording - we're working on improving this!)