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October 2015: Diao Dou 刁斗

'Diao Dou' is the pen name of Diao Tiejun. He was born in 1960 in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China, and since graduating from the Beijing Broadcasting Institute in 1983, he has worked as a journalist and latterly as a literary editor.

His five novels are Siren dang’an (Personal File, 1998), Zhengci (Testimony, 1999), Youxifa (Playing the Game, 2002), Wo ge Diao Bei nianbiao (My Brother, Diao Bei: A History, 2008) and Qinhe (Close to You, 2011). He has also published five collections of short stories: Duzi shangsheng (Ascending Alone, 1996), Shaizi yi zhi (A Roll of the Dice, 1996), Shijishang shi hujiu (A Cry for Help, 2006), Qingshu kao (Love Letters: A Study, 2014), Chuchu (Points of Origin), and a collection of essays, Yi ge xiaoshuojia de shenghuo yu xiangxiang (The Life and Imagination of a Novelist, 2012).

Diao Dou is widely regarded as one of China’s leading satirists, praised for his refusal to follow any of the numerous literary trends that often dominate the Chinese literary scene. In 2003, he was awarded the ninth annual Zhuang Zhongwen Prize for Literature.

Points of Origin, published by Comma Press, is the first appearance of his collected works in English.

(Bio from Comma Press)

The story we have for our October book club is 'Squattting', taken from Points of Origin and translated by Brendan O'Kane. Thank you to Comma Press for giving us permission to reprint this story. We'd also like to point you to Comma's brilliant 'McGuffin' app, a 'literary jukebox', where you can download and listen to stories (including 'Squatting') and poems.

This month's translator, Brendan O'Kane, spent a decade in Beijing, working mostly as a freelance translator and the co-host of the Mandarin-learning podcast Popup Chinese, reviews of which have described him as ‘only slightly annoying.’ He is currently a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania. You can find out more about Brendan's other translations on the Paper Republic website.

We're delighted that Diao Dou will be joining us at the University of Leeds on October 15th for a reading and discussion of his work. He'll be joined by Samantha Clark, Marketing and Production Assistant at Comma Press. Please see our events page for more details.

There's also a chance to see him at the Free Word Centre in London, on October 12th, and at the Manchester Literature Festival on October 17th, in conversation with short story writer Adam Marek.