The Greatest Chinese "Drama" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 315 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Drama is a genre of literature that typically deals with serious and emotional themes, often exploring the complexities of human relationships and the struggles individuals face in their lives. These books often feature intense character development and intricate plotlines, delving into the depths of human experience and the challenges of navigating the world around us. From family dramas to political intrigue, the drama genre encompasses a wide range of stories that aim to captivate readers with their raw and powerful storytelling.

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  1. 1. Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin

    "Dream of the Red Chamber" is a classic Chinese novel that provides a detailed, episodic record of life in the aristocratic Jia family. The story revolves around the love triangle between the family's heir, his sickly cousin, and his other cousin who is raised to be his wife. It is also a critique of the family's decline and a reflection on the societal norms of the time. The novel is famous for its vivid characterization and psychological depth, and its unique portrayal of Chinese society during the Qing dynasty.

    The 569th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Waiting by Ha Jin

    "Waiting" is a story set in China during the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath, revolving around the life of Lin Kong, a military doctor who is torn between his love for two women. He is stuck in an arranged marriage with his traditional wife in the countryside, while he falls in love with a modern, city nurse. The novel explores his 18-year struggle to divorce his wife and marry his lover, depicting the clash between traditional and modern Chinese culture, personal desires, and societal expectations.

    The 1407th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Teahouse by Lao She

    "Teahouse" is a historical drama that explores 50 years of Chinese history (1898-1948) through the microcosm of a Beijing teahouse. The narrative follows the lives of the teahouse owner and his customers, reflecting the social changes, political turmoil, and cultural shifts of the time. The story provides a deep insight into the Chinese society, its traditions, and the impact of Western influence. It also highlights the struggle of the common people amidst corruption, oppression, and the collapse of traditional values.

    The 2666th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Fate In Tears And Laughter by Chang Hen-shui

    Set in early 20th century China, this novel follows the tumultuous love story of a young couple, Yaping and Yujie, whose relationship is tested by societal pressures, family obligations, and personal ambitions. As they navigate the complexities of their emotions and the constraints imposed by their social environment, their journey is marked by moments of profound joy and deep sorrow. The narrative poignantly explores themes of love, fate, and the enduring human spirit, capturing the essence of a rapidly changing society and the timeless struggle between personal desire and societal expectations.

    The 4693rd Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. The Peony Pavilion by Tang Xianzu

    "The Peony Pavilion" is a romantic tragicomedy play set during the Ming Dynasty, revolving around the love story between Du Liniang and Liu Mengmei. After falling in love with Liu in a dream, Du Liniang, the daughter of a high official, pines for him so deeply that she becomes ill and dies. Her spirit roams, seeking to be reunited with her lover. Liu, a young scholar, later discovers her portrait and falls in love with the image, leading to a series of supernatural events that eventually culminate in Du Liniang’s resurrection and the lovers' marriage. The play explores themes of love, destiny, and the metaphysical, challenging the social norms of the time.

    The 5945th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Family Catastrophe by Wang Wen-hsin

    The novel delves into the complexities of familial relationships and personal identity against the backdrop of post-war Taiwan. It follows the protagonist, Fan Yeh, as he navigates the emotional turmoil and existential crises that arise from his strained relationships with his parents and siblings. The narrative explores themes of alienation, cultural dislocation, and the search for meaning in a rapidly changing society, painting a poignant and introspective portrait of a family in crisis.

    The 6324th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. Farewell To My Concubine by Lilian Lee

    Set against the backdrop of political upheaval in 20th-century China, this novel follows the intertwined lives of two Peking opera actors, Cheng Dieyi and Duan Xiaolou, whose deep bond is tested by the tumultuous events around them. From their challenging apprenticeship to their rise to fame, their relationship is further complicated by the presence of Juxian, a former courtesan who becomes Xiaolou's wife. As the characters navigate the shifting tides of war, revolution, and cultural change, their personal struggles reflect the broader societal transformations, ultimately leading to a heartrending conclusion.

    The 8046th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Raise The Red Lantern by Su Tong

    Set in 1920s China, the story follows a young woman named Lotus who becomes the fourth wife of a wealthy man. Trapped in a rigid and oppressive household, she navigates the complex dynamics and rivalries among the other wives, each vying for the master's favor. The novel explores themes of power, jealousy, and the harsh realities of life within a patriarchal society, ultimately painting a poignant picture of the limited choices available to women in that era.

    The 8835th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. The Other Shore by Xingjian Gao

    "The Other Shore" is a play that explores themes of identity, freedom, and human nature through a series of allegorical and surreal scenes. The narrative follows a group of characters who attempt to cross a river, symbolizing the transition from the oppressive constraints of their old lives to a new, unknown existence. As they confront various existential challenges and philosophical dilemmas, the characters grapple with their desires, fears, and the very essence of their beings, ultimately questioning the nature of reality and the possibility of true liberation. The play delves into the conflicts between individuality and collective identity, and the struggle for personal authenticity in the face of societal norms.

    The 10853rd Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.