1st Edition

Writing Manchuria: The Lives and Literature of Zhu Ti and Li Zhengzhong

By Norman Smith Copyright 2023
    242 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Writing Manchuria details the lives and translates a selection of fiction from one of the mid-twentieth century’s "four famous husband-wife writers" of China’s Northeast, who lived in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo: Li Zhengzhong (1921–2020) and Zhu Ti (1923–2012).

    The writings herein were published from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, in Manchukuo, north China, and Japan; their writings appeared in the most prominent Japanese-owned, Chinese-language journals and newspapers. This volume includes materials that were censored or banned by the Manchukuo authorities: Li Zhengzhong’s "Temptation" and "Frost Flowers," and Zhu Ti’s "Cross the Bo Sea" and "Little Linzi and her Family." Li Zhengzhong has been characterized as "an angry youth" while Zhu Ti’s work questioned contemporary gender ideals and the subjugation of women. Their writings – those that were censored or banned and those published – shed important light on Japanese imperialism and the Chinese literature that was produced in different regions, reflecting both official support and suppression.

    Writing Manchuria is the first English-language translation of their writings, and it will appeal to those interested in Chinese wartime literature, as well as contribute to understandings of imperialism and the varied forms it took across Japan’s vast war-time empire.

    Part One: Lives and Literature

    Historical Setting

    The Li Family

    The Zhang Family

    Two Lives Entwined

    Civil War

    The "Mao Years"

    Life in "The Opening Up"


    Part Two: A Gender Questioner: Zhu Ti’s Fiction

    What I Wrote and Why: Preface to Cherry

    A Pensive Life: Dreams and Youth

    Dance Hall Daze: The Joy of Life

    The Lure of Love: Shooting Star in a Distant Sky

    A Teacher’s Dilemma: Me and My Children

    Broken Lives: Melancholy on the Mighty Black Dragon River

    From Home to Hell and…?: Cross the Bo Sea

    The Human Costs of Sex Work: Little Yinzi and her Family

    Rationalizing Rations: Little Scene of the Neighbors

    Part Three: An Angry Youth: Li Zhengzhong’s Fiction

    What I Wrote and How: Literature and My Life

    Caught in Generational Change: Bamboo Shoot

    A Quest for Love, A Quest for Revenge: Rude Reality

    Urban Decadence, Rural Decline: Nostalgia

    An Illicit Affair: Temptation



    Norman Smith is a professor of History at the University of Guelph. His research focuses on the modern history of China’s Northeast/Manchuria. His books include two monographs, Resisting Manchukuo (2007) and Intoxicating Manchuria (2012), and nine edited volumes. His research has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, and Russian.