10 books like The Corpse Walker

By Liao Yiwu,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Corpse Walker. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Crusade for Justice

By Ida B. Wells,

Book cover of Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells

You may have heard of Ida B. Wells, the fierce anti-lynching campaigner of the late-1800s and early 1900s, who used journalism to expose these crimes when many larger papers ignored them. Wells won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 2020 and was well-known in her day. But Crusade for Justice, her engaging autobiography, detailing conversations and the decisions behind her uncommon bravery, was only published in 1970, almost forty years after she died. And it was only re-released in 2020. Her story, and its recovery, is a reminder of how easily the most significant historical figures can be forgotten.

Crusade for Justice

By Ida B. Wells,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Crusade for Justice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"She fought a lonely and almost single-handed fight, with the single-mindedness of a crusader, long before men or women of any race entered the arena; and the measure of success she achieved goes far beyond the credit she has been given in the history of the country."-Alfreda M. Duster

Ida B. Wells is an American icon of truth telling. Born to slaves, she was a pioneer of investigative journalism, a crusader against lynching, and a tireless advocate for suffrage, both for women and for African Americans. She co-founded the NAACP, started the Alpha Suffrage Club in Chicago, and was a…


The Five

By Hallie Rubenhold,

Book cover of The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper

The five women who were Jack the Ripper’s canonical victims have always been just that, his victims. Rubenhold gives them back their identities, in their own right, as mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives and challenges the ‘traditional’ view. For three of them, there is no evidence that they were prostitutes, but all five were women battling personal demons who were down on their luck. They were Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. The Five is not the story of their deaths, but their lives.

The Five

By Hallie Rubenhold,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Five as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE #1 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NONFICTION 2019
'An angry and important work of historical detection, calling time on the misogyny that has fed the Ripper myth. Powerful and shaming' GUARDIAN

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.

Their murderer was never identified, but…


Border Town

By Shen Congwen, Jeffrey C. Kinkley (translator),

Book cover of Border Town

This 1934 work tells the moving story of a young country girl called Cuicui and her ferryman grandfather. As the girl comes of age, she catches the eye of two brothers. It’s a simple plot but beautifully told, with sympathetic depictions of the common folk and rich nostalgic evocations of rural life. The “border” in the title refers to the West Hunan setting near the provincial border with Sichuan. The area is also a cultural border between the Han and various minorities. Shen Congwen grew up there and was himself of mixed heritage. Chosen to receive the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature, he died before the announcement, and the prize – following the rule against awarding posthumously – went to another writer. 

Border Town

By Shen Congwen, Jeffrey C. Kinkley (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Border Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1934, "Border Town" tells the story of Cuicui, a young country girl who is coming of age during a time of national turmoil. The granddaughter of a poor ferryman, Cuicui grows up in Chadong, a small town in China's exotic southwestern frontier, where she is sheltered from the warlord fighting that was prevalent in China in the 1920s. Like any teenager, Cuicui dreams of romance and finding true love. She's caught up in the spell of the local custom of nighttime serenades, but she is also haunted by her grandfather's aging and imminent death. Both Cuicui and…


The King of Trees

By Ah Cheng, Bonnie S. McDougall (translator),

Book cover of The King of Trees

Set in China’s southwestern mountainous rainforest borderland of Xishuangbanna, this novella is based on the author’s time as a “sent-down youth” during the Cultural Revolution. Politics take a backseat to the intimate friendships forged during those years, alongside the heedless degradation of the country’s lushest lands. The famed director Chen Kaige—who had served two mountains away from the author—made a faithful film adaptation.

The King of Trees

By Ah Cheng, Bonnie S. McDougall (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The King of Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the three novellas in The King of Trees were published separately in China in the 1980s, "Ah Cheng fever" spread across the country. Never before had a fiction writer dealt with the Cultural Revolution in such Daoist-Confucian terms, discarding Mao-speak, and mixing both traditional and vernacular elements with an aesthetic that emphasized not the hardships and miseries of those years, but the joys of close, meaningful friendships. In The King of Chess, a student's obsession with finding worthy chess opponents symbolizes his pursuit of the dao; in The King of Children-made into an award-winning film by Chen Kaige, the…


Rickshaw Boy

By Lao She,

Book cover of Rickshaw Boy

If you read only one book set in Beijing, let it be this one. During the Japanese occupation, a rickshaw puller named Xiangzi ping-pongs between success and misfortune in his quest to one day own a vehicle of his own. The author, a Manchu who grew up in the capital’s dense net of hutong alleyways, knows his material and his city unlike any Beijing writer before or since, especially its fatalist sense of humor. The editor of its first American edition changed the ending so everyone lived happily-ever-after. Lao She knew better; three decades later, he was among the most prominent casualties of the Red Guards.

Rickshaw Boy

By Lao She,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rickshaw Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Lao She’s great novel.”
—The New York Times

 

A beautiful new translation of the classic Chinese novel from Lao She, one of the most acclaimed and popular Chinese writers of the twentieth century,  Rickshaw Boy chronicles the trials and misadventures of a poor Beijing rickshaw driver. Originally published in 1937, Rickshaw Boy—and the power and artistry of Lao She—can now be appreciated by a contemporary American audience.


Love in a Fallen City

By Eileen Chang, Karen S. Kingsbury (translator),

Book cover of Love in a Fallen City

Though these collected stories were popular in Chang’s native China when first published in the 1940s, decades passed before they were translated into English. The title story brings war-torn Hong Kong to life, but even against the most dramatic political backdrop, Chang’s focus is firmly on women and relationships. Though the time and place may seem remote, readers will find universal emotions in these carefully constructed tales. 

Love in a Fallen City

By Eileen Chang, Karen S. Kingsbury (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Love in a Fallen City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Masterful short works about passion, family, and human relationships by one of the greatest writers of 20th century China. 

A New York Review Books Original

 

“[A] giant of modern Chinese literature” –The New York Times

 

"With language as sharp as a knife edge, Eileen Chang cut open a huge divide in Chinese culture, between the classical patriarchy and our troubled modernity. She was one of the very few able truly to connect that divide, just as her heroines often disappeared inside it. She is the fallen angel of Chinese literature, and now, with these excellent new translations, English readers can…


Book of Ages

By Jill Lepore,

Book cover of Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin

Ostensibly an account of the life of Benjamin Franklin’s youngest sister, Jane Franklin, Lepore’s book is also a meditation on the construction of history, exploring the question of why some stories get told and others don’t. Why is Benjamin Franklin now a household name, when most people don’t even know that he even had a sister? If you want to know the answer to this question, read Lepore’s book.

Book of Ages

By Jill Lepore,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Book of Ages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
NPR • Time Magazine • The Washington Post • Entertainment Weekly • The Boston Globe

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

From one of our most accomplished and widely admired historians—a revelatory portrait of Benjamin Franklin's youngest sister, Jane, whose obscurity and poverty were matched only by her brother’s fame and wealth but who, like him, was a passionate reader, a gifted writer, and an astonishingly shrewd political commentator.

Making use of an astonishing cache of little-studied material, including documents, objects, and portraits only just discovered, Jill Lepore…


The Witch of Eye

By Kathryn Nuernberger,

Book cover of The Witch of Eye

Different stylistically than the other books on the list, The Witch of Eye is a collection of lyric essays about those accused of witchcraft. In its pages, we meet Lisbet Nypan of Norway, who cured patients using a “ritual of salt” only to be put on trial in the late 1600s, and the German midwife Walpurga Hausmannin, who allegedly coupled with the devil in the clothes of the neighborhood corn farmer. The sentences are dense and hypnotic, transporting readers into fields and courtrooms. One essay begins by describing the language of magic: “You begin a spell with an invocation like Hear me or I beseech you or Oh friend or Listen.” Let yourself be drawn in.

The Witch of Eye

By Kathryn Nuernberger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Witch of Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This amazingly wise and nimble collection investigates the horrors inflicted on so-called "witches" of the past. The Witch of Eye unearths salves, potions, and spells meant to heal, yet interpreted by inquisitors as evidence of evil. The author describes torture and forced confessions alongside accounts of gentleness of legendary midwives. In one essay about a trial, we learn through folklore that Jesus's mother was a midwife who cured her own son's rheumatism. In other essays there are subtle parallels to contemporary discourse around abortion and environmental destruction. Nuernberger weaves in her own experiences, too. There's an ironic look at her…


One Child

By Mei Fong,

Book cover of One Child: The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment

Mei Fong has spent years documenting and traveling across China to meet the people who live with the consequences of the draconian one-child policy. I was riveted by this slim but expansive book, its searing clarity, deep compassion, and unflinching interrogation only avail to an outsider unhampered by the censorship in China. Mei Fong explores in depth how the one-child policy has changed every facet of social life from cradle to grave: courtship, marriage, women’s work, only children, adoption/baby trafficking, surrogate, IVF, aging, retirement, hospice/death, and much more. Weaving in with the author’s own quest to become a mother, Mei Fong weighs the cost of parenthood and asks the hard question: Why do we have children?

One Child

By Mei Fong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tang Shuxiu and her husband are on an 800-mile train journey from Beijing to Shifang, where they believe their only child has perished in a recent earthquake. Three days after the event, Tang is too dehydrated to cry.

Liu Ting becomes a national hero when he brings his mother to college, a celebration of filial piety in a nation that now legally compels adult children to visit their elderly parents.

Tian Qingeng and his parents are deeply in debt. They have bought an apartment they hope will improve his eligibility in a nation that has 30 million bachelors, or 'bare…


Frog

By Mo Yan, Howard Goldblatt (translator),

Book cover of Frog

As a writer who works under China’s censorship, Mo Yan spins literary gold in his novel Frog by blending high farce with social commentary. Narrator Tadpole’s aunt Gugu, a feisty woman with extraordinary gifts, evolves from a legendary midwife to a demonic one-child policy enforcer, then becomes an incorrigible go-between for surrogate and intentional parents. Readers see how China and rural Gaomi townships have changed, almost beyond description, from Maoist times to the current hyper-capitalistic phase. Much of the story is funny, brutal, yet firmly grounded, as people endure, and many perish during a half-century of social and political turmoil.

Frog

By Mo Yan, Howard Goldblatt (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Frog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES TOP BOOK OF THE YEAR
WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK

From the Nobel-prize winning author of Red Sorghum and one China's most revered writers, a novel exploring the One-Child Policy

Before the Cultural Revolution, Gugu, narrator Tadpole's feisty aunt, is a respected midwife in her rural community. She combines modern medical knowledge with a healer's touch to save the lives of village women and their babies. Gugu is beautiful, charismatic, and of an unimpeachable political background.

After a disastrous love affair with a defector leaves Gugu reeling, she throws herself zealously into enforcing China's draconian new family…


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