The Greatest Chinese "Fiction" Books Since 2000

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 264 '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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  1. 1. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

    This novel tells the story of two teenage boys sent to a remote mountain village for re-education during China's Cultural Revolution. There, they meet a local tailor's daughter, who becomes their friend and the object of their shared affection. The boys discover a hidden suitcase filled with forbidden Western classics in Chinese translation, and their lives are forever changed. The books not only awaken their passion for literature, but also allow them to educate the Seamstress, ultimately leading to a heartbreaking love triangle and a tale of personal freedom against the odds.

  2. 2. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

    The book is a science fiction novel that intertwines the cultural revolution of China with a complex narrative involving astrophysics, virtual reality, and alien contact. It follows a disillusioned scientist who, after suffering personal tragedy during the Cultural Revolution, sends a message into space, only to receive a response from an alien civilization on the brink of destruction. As the aliens plan their migration to Earth, a secret organization works to facilitate the invasion, while a disparate group of scientists and military personnel attempt to understand and prevent the impending extraterrestrial crisis. The novel grapples with themes of human nature, technological advancement, and the vast, often incomprehensible universe.

  3. 3. Death Of A Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong

    "Death Of A Red Heroine" is a crime novel set in 1990s Shanghai, China. The story follows Inspector Chen Cao as he investigates the murder of a young woman, whose body is found in a canal. As Chen delves deeper into the case, he uncovers a web of corruption, political intrigue, and personal secrets that challenge his loyalty to the Communist Party and force him to confront the complexities of modern Chinese society. Through vivid descriptions of Shanghai's changing landscape and insightful commentary on social issues, the novel offers a captivating portrayal of a country in transition.

  4. 4. The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

    The book is a fantasy novel set in a world inspired by China's 20th century history. The protagonist, a war orphan, defies societal expectations by acing the empire-wide examination and earning a place at the prestigious military academy. However, her triumph is short-lived as she becomes embroiled in a violent conflict, which forces her to delve into the depths of her own magical abilities, inspired by shamanism. The story intertwines the brutal realities of war, mythology, and the exploration of power in a deeply divided society.

  5. 5. Jade City by Fonda Lee

    In a bustling city ruled by powerful crime families, the Kauls, who possess the rare ability to harness the magical powers of jade, struggle to maintain their control amidst rising tensions and rivalries. As the city teeters on the brink of chaos, the Kaul siblings find themselves caught in a dangerous web of betrayal, loyalty, and ambition, where the fate of their family and their city hangs in the balance. With vivid world-building and intricate character dynamics, "Jade City" is a gripping tale of power, honor, and the price of maintaining control.

  6. 6. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

    Set in 19th century China, the novel centers around the lifelong friendship of Lily and Snow Flower. Despite their different social classes, the two communicate through a secret language known as "nu shu" written on a fan. The story explores the rigid societal norms of the time, particularly the practice of foot binding and arranged marriages. As they navigate through the hardships of their lives, their friendship is tested, leading to a devastating betrayal that impacts their relationship.

  7. 7. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, Janet Song

    "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" is a children's fantasy novel about a young girl named Minli who lives in a poor village at the base of a mountain. She sets out on a journey to find the Old Man of the Moon, hoping he can answer her family's prayers for a better life. Along the way, she meets a talking goldfish, a dragon who cannot fly, and other magical creatures. Through her adventures, Minli learns valuable lessons about gratitude, kindness, and the power of storytelling.

  8. 8. War Trash by Ha Jin

    The novel is a fictional memoir of a Chinese soldier who is captured during the Korean War and spends several years in American POW camps. He struggles to survive in the brutal conditions and navigate the political rivalries among the prisoners, while holding onto the hope of repatriation and the fear of being labeled a traitor by his own country. The narrative explores themes of loyalty, survival, and the human cost of war.

  9. 9. Death's End by Cixin Liu

    In this science fiction epic, humanity confronts an uncertain future as the universe teeters on the brink of destruction. The narrative weaves through time and space, following a complex tapestry of characters and civilizations as they grapple with advanced alien technologies, cosmic dilemmas, and philosophical quandaries. The story explores the depths of human ingenuity and the vastness of the cosmos, culminating in a profound examination of survival, sacrifice, and the indomitable spirit of life in the face of an unfathomable cosmos. With a blend of hard science fiction and imaginative speculation, the novel pushes the boundaries of human understanding and presents a grand vision of the ultimate fate of the universe.

  10. 10. Stay True by Hua Hsu

    "Stay True" by Hua Hsu is a collection of essays that explore the intersections of race, culture, and identity in America. Through personal anecdotes and cultural analysis, Hsu examines the ways in which popular culture and media shape our understanding of race and identity, and how individuals navigate these complex and often contradictory narratives. From the rise of Asian American representation in Hollywood to the legacy of Michael Jackson, "Stay True" offers a nuanced and thought-provoking exploration of the cultural landscape of America.

  11. 11. The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

    In the second installment of a renowned science fiction trilogy, humanity is faced with an impending alien invasion, set to occur in four centuries. The world turns to the Wallfacer Project, a strategic initiative that appoints four individuals with the power to execute plans to combat the extraterrestrial threat, their strategies hidden even from humanity to prevent the aliens from gaining foreknowledge. One of these Wallfacers, a disillusioned astronomer, devises a complex plan involving astrophysics, sociology, and game theory, all while grappling with the philosophical implications of a universe where survival is predicated on a dark forest theory, where civilizations are hunters lying in wait, ready to strike out of fear and self-preservation.

  12. 12. The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa

    Set in the 1930s during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, the novel intertwines the lives of a young Chinese girl, a master of the ancient board game Go, and a Japanese soldier. As the girl seeks refuge from the turmoil of war in the strategy and beauty of Go, she encounters the soldier in the public square where they silently engage in a series of games. The board becomes a silent battleground reflecting their personal and political struggles. Their growing connection and the insights they gain into each other's cultures and vulnerabilities lead to a poignant and tragic conclusion, underscoring the senselessness of war and the transcendent power of human connection and empathy.

Reading Statistics

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

Download

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.

Download