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February/ March 2024: Shen Yang 沈阳

Born in Shandong in 1986, Shen Yang belongs to the millions of “invisible children” who violated the One-Child Policy and were forced to live in the shadows of the Chinese society. Her book More Than One Child: Memoir of an Illegal Daughter, which was translated by Nicky Harman and published by Balestier Press in 2021, provides a vivid account of the family planning era in China, as she writes down her journey towards overcoming the limits of her upbringing and forging her own identity amidst the difficulties of her childhood.

More Than One Child was featured on our Book Review Network, where you can read some really interesting discussion.

Her latest book is Golden Childhoodalso translated by Nicky Harman and published by Balestier Press (2023).

Golden Childhood narrates Shen Yang’s fondest childhood memories of the Chinese countryside and brings them to life through the vibrant hand-drawn paintings of Jinshan Folk Painting artist Chen Huifang. Through its lyrical writing and enchanting imagery, this book celebrates the simple pleasures in life, the joys of playing freely outdoors and enjoying nature, and is sprinkled with interesting bits about Chinese culture and old ways of living.

-Balestier Press

We're very grateful to Shen Yang, Nicky, and Balestier, for allowing us to feature twelve of the short chapters from the book. You can read them in both Chinese and English, and also see the gorgeous folk art illustrations by Chen Huifang, which were based on sketches and ideas from Shen Yang and her husband Gabriele.

Shortly after Spring Festival, we welcomed the first full moon of the lunar new year by celebrating the Lantern Festival. The whole village was decorated with animal-shaped lanterns and streamers, and giant dragons and lions, animated by nimble dancers inside them, roamed the streets at the rhythm of drums. At every corner you could find stalls selling “tangyuan”, sweet and perfectly round rice balls symbolizing unity and the wish for a joyful start of the year.

- From 'Lantern Festival'

And we were lucky to be joined by both Shen Yang and Nicky in February for a talk and translation workshop focusing on Golden Childhood, where we got the chance to look at how author, translator, and illustrator worked together, and to try our hand at our own translation!

This month's Bookclub feature also marks the launch of our theme for this year - children's literature! We have some exciting authors and events lined up, so keep an eye on our website and social media over the next few months!