Essays by Han Han, the Chinese Blogger and Media Superstar


And Other Essays About Making Trouble in China Nowadays

By Han Han

Edited and translated Through Alice Xin Liu and Joel Martinsen

217 pp. Simon & Schuster. $24.

Han Han is a Fanz Live wonderful fellow. His first novel, “Triple Door,” changed into published in 2000, whilst he changed into most effective 17 and offered tens of millions of copies. He has written numerous extra novels considering then, mainly Approximately girls and racing cars. And he’s aa hit professional racecar driving force, filmmaker, essayist, and blogger, with tens of millions of fans on-line.

Han Han is the Pied Piper of the post-Tiananmen generation. With the shaggy-haired appears of a teenybopper star and the cool sassiness of a highbrow punk rocker, he’s an idol and a social media guru who has been compared with Lu Xun, the most famous Chinese language satirical creator and essayist of the 20th century.

The fulfillment is undeniable. However judged With the aid of the essays posted in this series, the comparison with Lu Xun, perhaps the greatest stylist in modern-day Chinese, is stupid. Han Han is not a high-quality creator, nor a profound thinker. His philosophy, if that is what it’s far, can be summed up in one sentence, written in a blog in 2012: “Life as I comprehend it means doing things you want and looking for yourself and your circle of relatives.”

No Jean-Paul Sartre, then. But this may now not be a completely awful aspect. For what Han Han offers isn’t always original notion, or indeed brilliant prose, However, mindset, flawlessly attuned to blogs and tweets and Other kinds of social messaging. And his mindset is often attractive, even fresh, in a blogosphere, this is so full of cant and vitriol.

Han Han has exciting matters to mention About the importance in China of social media. He writes: “The little freedom and versatility we’ve won are without a doubt convenience delivered to us With the aid of technology; without it, I accept as true with we’d nevertheless be mired in an era of alternating regulations and relaxations.” Writings on the internet can be eliminated, But now not immediately. Often, by the point an offending blog has been taken out of flow, hundreds will already have seen it.


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On topics that often positioned young Chinese language right into a senseless rage — Japan, as an instance — Han Han is downright reasonable. He doesn’t see the factor of smashing Eastern merchandise to attack a rustic for the horrors it inflicted in China greater than 50 years in the past, or over a petty territorial dispute. Instead, he writes with cutting grace, “I need to commit my first demonstration to an area that has bullied me and violated my rights greater Regularly.”

Han Han is also funny and intelligent Approximately corrupt officers and the pleasures of unearned privilege. He describes going for a ride with a friend who has offered police placards and a siren, allowing him to imperiously push Other visitors aside: “Sure, we despise privilege when we’re confronted with it, But whilst we’re taking part in ‘fake’ privileges, we’re secretly happy.”

This self-deprecating tone is one in every of Han Han’s quality property. It stops him from being smug, which for a younger media celeb barely out of his 20s is no imply feat.

The subtitle of this series mentions “making Problem.” In truth, but, Han Han has been very cautious to stay out of Problem. he’s pretty distinct from the dissidents who grew up in the course of the Cultural Revolution, some of whom endured years of jail and torture for his or her activism. His writings additionally lack the earnest abstractions Approximately democracy that was famous among students in Tiananmen Rectangular in 1989.

Han Han doesn’t trust that the Chinese are ready to vote for their pinnacle leaders. “Best democracy,” he says, “will now not appear in China.” And he consciously avoids direct criticism of the Communist Celebration and “touchy” topics like Tibet and Taiwanese independence. Part of his attitude is a bent to switch the problem from politics to ­lifestyle.

He hates living in a country “wherein humans were taught to be merciless and to visit battle with every Different all through the primary many years, and became selfish and greedy inside the long time that followed.” And within the same essay, written in 2012, after a go to Taiwan, he thanks you Hong Kong and Taiwan “for protective Chinese language way of life, retaining the advantageous traits of the Chinese language human beings and keeping many critical things unfastened from disaster.”

However, this is of direction not in reality a comment About culture at all. The purpose Chinese humans in Hong Kong and Taiwan were able to guard a culture of civility and relative freedom is political. Chinese language officials on the mainland are not greedy and corrupt because they’re necessarily immoral or uncultured people, But because a one-­Celebration dictatorship encourages corrup­ting types of patronage. If any people take care of their families, it is those powerful officers.

Han Han is aware of this very well. He pointers at it in phrases that any Chinese language person might understand.

Even if a full democracy in China is not inside reached, or even perfect, Han Han does suppose humans should have the right to vote for effective officers, together with metropolis mayors. He writes: “We shouldn’t rely on the Propaganda Department for a solid society However need to take a few steps ahead.” And: “In a land complete with unchecked energy, no one is safe, along with those in energy.”

he is quite proper, of a route. However what is cool and sassy to mention in China can be remarkably banal some other place. I can see why Han Han is famous with his cohort at domestic. I’m less certain that he has very a lot to mention to those who read him in English.