A yet-untranslated essay collection on the importance of critical thought, from one of the foremost Chinese intellectuals of the post-Tiananmen generation.
A newly translated English collection of Wang Xiaobo’s most influential nonfiction pieces, as well as rare diary entries offering insight into the author’s time studying in the United States. From his personal take on the intellectual failures of China’s Cultural Revolution era to musings about the future of the internet and science fiction cinema, Wang Xiaobo prods his readers, in a gentle, humorous way, to think about what it means to think. In between, he questions the social sciences and offers his own understanding of how they should be practiced. Several pieces focus on literature, with notable essays devoted to Italo Calvino, Bertrand Russell, and Ernest Hemingway, whom Wang admired greatly. Other pieces are more personal in nature, ranging from vignettes on life in the United States, to a meditation on getting mugged, to the consideration of the question: why do I write? Like his fiction, Wang’s nonfiction is never about one thing in particular, often juxtaposing and drawing parallels among disparate discourses. But taken together, his essays and fiction all coalesce toward a sort of intellectual optimism that brilliantly anticipates Chinese thought in the 21st century. A companion to Golden Age, Pleasure of Thinking by Wang Xiaobo contains essays, travelogs, book reviews, and more. As well known in China for his essays as for his novellas, Wang’s nonfiction pieces offer a key to understanding his at times enigmatic fiction. His central thesis—the importance of independent and critical thinking—is accessible and thought-provoking to readers of all backgrounds.