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May 2023: Chen Zijin 陈紫金

Chen Zijin is a bestselling author of crime fiction. His novel The Untouched Crime 无证之罪 was translated into English by Michelle Deeter and published in 2014 by Amazon Crossing. Bad Kids 坏孩子, also translated by Michelle Deeter, was published by Pushkin Press in 2022. The novel was adapted into one of China’s highest-rated online TV shows of all time, with over five billion topic posts on Weibo. He lives in Ningbo, China.


This month we've very happy to be featuring Chen Zijin on our bookclub, to coincide with our events on 'Chinese Crime Fiction from Around the World', including a roundtable event on Friday 12th May, and a special Book Reviewers' Weekend on the 13th-14th.

Chen's novel Bad Kids was a best-seller in China, and we're delighted that his translator Michelle Deeter will be joining us to discuss her work on his novels for our crime fiction weekend.

One beautiful morning, Zhang Dongsheng pushes his wealthy in-laws off a remote mountain.

It’s the perfect crime. Or so he thinks.

For Zhang did not expect that teenager Chaoyang and his friends would catch him in the act. An opportunity for blackmail presents itself and the kids start down a dark path that will lead to the unravelling of all their lives.

Dark, heart-stopping and violent, Bad Kids is the suspense thriller that has taken China by storm, proving that anyone has what it takes to become a killer.

The book has also been adapted into a hugely popular online drama, 隐秘的角落/ The Bad Kids.

Since its first episodes were released on China’s Netflix-like video platform iQiyi in mid-June, “The Bad Kids” has earned sweeping praise for its plot, cinematography, casting, dialogue, pacing, and soundtrack. It’s also generated wide-ranging online discussion on human nature due to the psychology and complex motivations of its characters.

Sixth Tone

For our bookclub this month, Chen, Michelle, and publisher FT Culture have kindly let us feature an unpublished excerpt from another of his novels, The Long Night 长夜难明.

The officer pointed to the handcuffed man on the screen and said, “He admitted to killing the man, but they’re still working on the details. He seems to be cooperating. He says the deceased was his friend. Apparently, that ‘friend’ owed him a lot of money and he killed the guy in a fit of rage.”

You can read the excerpt both in Chinese, and in Michelle Deeter's English translation.