Asian Arts and Ideas Forum: The Chindia Dialogues

The inaugural Asian Arts & Ideas Forum, The Chindia Dialogues brings together established and emerging writers, thinkers and performing artists from China and India to engage in a vital cultural dialogue.

Participants | Translators


Amit Chaudhuri

AMIT CHAUDHURI is the author of five novels, the latest of which is The Immortals (2010). Among the many prizes he has won for his fiction are the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Indian government’s Sahitya Akademi Award. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and was a judge of the Man Booker International Prize. In 2008, an editorial about him appeared in The Guardian’s famous ‘In Praise of...’ series. He is Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia, and is also an influential critic. He is a singer in the North Indian classical tradition, as well as being a composer in experimental music. His second CD in this genre, Found Music, was an Critic’s Choice of 2010. He has been a featured artist on flagship culture programs on UK television and radio.

MySpace: amitchaudhuri 
Facebook: The Amit Chaudhuri Band


Siddhartha Deb

SIDDHARTHA DEB is an Indian author who was born in Meghalaya and grew up in Shillong in northeastern India. He was educated in India and at Columbia University, USA. His first novel, The Point of Return (2004), is semi-autobiographical in nature and is set in a fictional hill-station that closely resembles Shillong in India’s Northeast. His second novel, Surface (2006), also set in Northeast India, is about a disillusioned Sikh journalist. His first non-fiction book, The Beautiful And The Damned: Life In The New India was published in September 2011 by Faber and Faber, Inc. He has also contributed to The Boston Globe, The Guardian, The Nation, The New Statesman, Harper’s, The London Review of Books, and The Times Literary Supplement. He currently teaches at The New School in New York.

Facebook: siddharthadeb


Amitav Ghosh

AMITAV GHOSH was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria and is the author of The Circle of Reason (2005), The Shadow Lines (2005), In An Antique Land (2009), Dancing in Cambodia (2010), The Calcutta Chromosome (2001), The Glass Palace (2002), The Hungry Tide (2006), and Sea of Poppies (2009), and his most recently published, River of Smoke (2011), which constitutes the second volume in The Ibis Trilogy. River of Smoke follows the characters from the Sea of Poppies from the expanding poppy fields of Bengal to the ports of China as the opium trade expands through 19th century Asia. Sea of Poppies was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and was awarded the Crossword Book Prize and the IndiaPlaza Golden Quill Award. In 2007, Ghosh was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest honors, by the President of India.


Ha Jin

HA JIN. An accomplished poet, novelist, short story writer, and professor, Ha Jin is the author of several critically acclaimed works, including Waiting (2000), Under the Red Flag (1998), Oceans of Words (1998), The Bridegroom (2001) and most recently, Nanjing Requiem (2011). Currently a professor of creative writing at Boston University, Ha Jin came to the US to study English literature at Brandeis University and decided to remain in the country after watching the events in Tiananmen Square on television. He is the recipient of a National Book Award, two PEN/Faulkner Awards, a PEN/Hemingway Award and a Flannery O’Connor Prize. Ha Jin’s works explore the timeless themes of brutality, desire, and wasted potential.


Meena Kandasamy

MEENA KANDASAMY @meenakandasamy is a poet, writer, activist and translator. Her work maintains a focus on caste annihilation, the Tamil national struggle and feminism. She has performed her poetry at major literary festivals across the world, and has published two collections, Touch (2006) and Ms. Militancy (2010). She was a writer-in-residence at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP 2009) and a Charles Wallace Fellow at the University of Kent (2011). She lives in India and is working on her first novel.

Twitter: @meenakandasamy
Facebook: Ms.Militancy


Amitava Kumar

AMITAVA KUMAR @amitavakumar is Professor of English on the Helen D. Lockwood Chair at Vassar. His most recent book, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb (2010), was called “perceptive and soulful” by The New York Times and chosen for the Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. His earlier books include Husband of a Fanatic (2005, a New York Times “Editors’ Choice”) and Bombay-London-New York (2002, a New Statesman “Book of the Year”). Kumar was the screenwriter-narrator of the prize-winning documentary film, Pure Chutney (1999). He has also written for numerous publications, including The Nation, Harper’s, Vanity Fair, Caravan, and The Hindu.

Twitter: @amitavakumar


Andrea Lingenfelter

ANDREA LINGENFELTER is a poet, scholar and translator of diverse works from Chinese to English. Her translations include novels Farewell My Concubine, by Lilian Lee (1993), Candy, by Mian Mian (2003) and The Changing Room (2011), a book-length collection of poems by China’s foremost feminist poet, Zhai Yongming. She has also published translations of work by numerous Chinese authors from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong in anthologies and journals including Kyoto Journal, The Literary Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Zoland Poetry, Full Tilt, and Foreign Policy. She is the recipient of a 2008 PEN Translation Fund grant for Annie Baobei’s novel, Padma.


Christopher Lydon

CHRISTOPHER LYDON @RadioOpenSource is the host of Radio Open Source, a podcast-broadcast conversation on arts, ideas and politics from Brown University’s Watson Institute. Proto-blogger Dave Winer calls Chris Lydon “the original podcaster” for his in-depth interviews and early adoption of blogging, podcasting, and the myriad extensions of the Internet while he was a fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for the Internet & Society in 2003. He has been a unconventional voice in print, television and radio for many years: covering city and state politics for the Boston Globe and presidential campaigns (McGovern, Humphrey, Reagan, Carter et al.) for The New York Times; anchoring “The Ten O’Clock News” at WGBH-TV in Boston, and founding “The Connection” on public radio with producer Mary McGrath. Chris Lydon recently worked with Asia Society on Another Pakistan, a co-production and candid series of podcast conversations with “the singers, storytellers, and artists of the Sind and the Punjab.”

Twitter: @RadioOpenSource


Suketu Mehta

SUKETU MEHTA is the New York-based author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (2005), which won the Kiriyama Prize and the Hutch Crossword Award, and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, the Lettre Ulysses Prize, the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. He has won the Whiting Writers Award, the O. Henry Prize, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for his fiction. Mehta’s work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Granta, Harpers Magazine, Time, and Condé Nast Traveler, and has been featured on NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’. Mehta is Associate Professor of Journalism at New York University. He is currently working on a nonfiction book about immigrants in contemporary New York, for which he was awarded a 2007 Guggenheim fellowship. Mehta was born in Calcutta and raised in Bombay and New York. He is a graduate of New York University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.



Sharmistha Mohanty

SHARMISTHA MOHANTY is a prose writer. She has two works of prose, Book One (1995) and New Life (2005), and has recently finished her third, called Sub-continent. She is also a translator from Bengali, and has recently published Broken Nest and Other Stories (2009), a collection of Tagore’s fiction. Mohanty is founder and editor of the online literature journal, Almost Island. She is also the initiator of the Almost Island Dialogues, an annual international writers meet held in New Delhi. She is on the faculty of the Creative Writing MFA at the City University of Hong Kong. Mohanty has worked in film, as a scriptwriter and creative consultant with some of India’s most innovative filmmakers, including Mani Kaul.



Murong Xuecun

MURONG XUECUN was a lawyer and a senior sales manager for a car company when he started to write on the company bulletin board in 2001 using the pen name Murong Xuecun. In 2002, his best-seller, Leave Me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu (2010) originally serialized online, took China by storm and has been translated into English, French and German. Murong Xuecun has given up his day job and now writes full time as an “independent writer” who declines to join the Party-sponsored China Writers’ Association. In the past few years, he has been writing literary non-fictional investigative reportage, most notably The Missing Ingredient , his prize-winning undercover reporting on mafia-style pyramid scams in Jiangxi. A second novel Dancing Through Red Dust (2008), delves into the secretive world of China’s legal system, and he is now working on his next novel, Con men (Pianzi).

Blog: hawkingblog
Weibo: @hawking


Ashis Nandy

ASHIS NANDY is an Indian political psychologist, a social theorist, and a contemporary cultural and political critic. His work covers a variety of topics, including public conscience, mass violence, future studies, and dialogues of civilizations. He was formerly Senior Fellow and Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS). He is currently a Senior Honorary Fellow at CSDS, as well as Chairperson at the New Delhi Centre for Environment and Food Security and Distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Post-Colonial Studies, Melbourne. Nandy received the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2007. In 2008, Nandy was listed as one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals Poll, published by The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.



Emily Parker

EMILY PARKER @emilydparker is a writer who has most recently served on Secretary of State Clinton’s Policy Planning staff at the U.S. Department of State, where she covered innovation, technology, and 21st century statecraft. She was a staff writer and editor at The Wall Street Journal and a staff op-ed editor at The New York Times. She was previously an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, an Arthur Ross Fellow at Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations and a Global Policy Fellow at Carnegie Moscow Center, where she researched the role of blogging and social media in Russia. From 2004 to 2005, she wrote The Wall Street Journal column called “Virtual Possibilities: China and the Internet.” She is currently writing a book about the Internet and democracy.

Twitter: @emilydparker


Allan Sealy

ALLAN SEALY was born in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. After schooling in Lucknow, he attended Delhi University, then studied and worked in the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Now he lives in Dehra Dun. His eye for place and his evocative descriptions are apparent in all his novels and in his travelogue, From Yukon to Yucatan (1994). Sealy’s first novel, The Trotter-Nama: A Chronicle (1997), is a tale of seven generations of an Anglo-Indian family. His novel, The Everest Hotel: A Calendar (1998), gained him an international following after being long-listed for the Booker Prize in 1998. According to Alex Tickell of the University of York, Allan Sealy has introduced “a memorable cast of characters in The Everest Hotel [and] his talents are equally evident in the luminous descriptive passages in the text, and in his feel for the lighter brushwork of natural detail, and shades of color and texture.” Allan Sealy has won a number of awards for his writing including a Commonwealth Best Book Award in 1989, the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1991 and the Crossword Book Award in 1998.



Shen Shuang

SHEN SHUANG teaches Comparative Literature and Chinese at Pennsylvania State University, specializing in modern and contemporary Chinese literature, Sinophone literature of the twentieth century, Chinese diaspora literatures and Asian American literature. Some of her publications include Cosmopolitan Publics: Anglophone Print Culture in Semi-Colonial Shanghai (Rutgers University Press, 2009) and English and Chinese articles in leading academic journals. Shen Shuang was one of the early Chinese participants and interpreters in the Almost Island Initiative, a web journal that together with Jintian, a leading journal of Chinese-language literature, has launched the first unofficial Sino-Indian dialogue between independent Chinese and Indian writers since the 1962 Sino-Indian border war.


Jonathan Spence

JONATHAN D. SPENCE is a British-born historian and public intellectual specializing in Chinese history. He is a Professor Emeritus of Yale University, where he was Sterling Professor of History from 1993 to 2008. His most famous book is The Search for Modern China, which has become one of the standard texts on the last several hundred years of Chinese history. A distinguished historian, prolific author, reviewer, and essayist, he has written numerous books on China, including The Search for Modern China (1990), The Chan’s Great Continent: China in Western Minds (1998), Mao Zedong (1999), The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci (1984), The Chinese and Their Revolution, 1895-1980 (1981) and The Death of Woman Wang (1978). Spence was named a MacArthur Fellow and has received ten honorary degrees and a Guggenheim Fellowship.


Su Tong

SU TONG has written seven novels, the latest of which is Boat to Redemption (Penguin, 2011). In 2009 he was awarded the Man Asian Literary Prize for this book, earning him both critical acclaim and popular praise from his millions of readers. His prolific and provocative oeuvre – which includes Rice (2004), My Life as Emperor (2006), a dozen novellas, and more than 120 short stories – has earned him a pre-eminent place at the heart of China’s literary scene. His best-known work outside China is the novella Raise the Red Lantern (2004), on which the screenplay for the film by the same name was based. Directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Gong Li, the film gained both an Oscar (1991) and a Bafta (1993).


Tan Chung

TAN CHUNG has served as the doyen of Chinese cultural studies in India for nearly half a century, a contribution for which he was recently decorated by the Government of India with one of the highest civilian honors, the 2010 Padman Bhushan. Born in Malaya in 1929 and brought up in China, Tan Chung spent his prime years in India (1955-1999) teaching at The University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. Tan Chung’s father, Tan Yun-shan, was a close friend and associate of Rabindranath Tagore and founding director of the Chinese Studies department at Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan. Professor Tan Chung has published numerous books in English and Chinese, most recently Tagore and China (2011), an anthology of critical and historical essays which marks the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. Tan Chung lives in Chicago where he is an associate of the University of Chicago.


Xu Xiaobin

XU XIAOBIN is a novelist, essayist and screenwriter who has published more than 40 works of fiction and prose. Xu’s most recent novel, Dunhuang Dream (Atria, 2011 in English translation) was awarded the National Book Golden Key Award in 1994. She is the recipient of China’s first National Women’s Literary Creative Writing Award (Feathered Serpent, 1998) the first Lu Xun Literature Award (Pisces, 1999) and a Writer’s Ordos Literary Award (Flowers of Purgatory, 2010). Xu’s screen adaptation of Princess De Ling (2004) became a 30-episode television series for China Central Television (CCTV). Her work, which will be published in an eight-volume anthology in 2011, has been translated into numerous Asian and European languages.


Yu Hua

YU HUA was born in Hangzhou in 1960 and made his name in China in the late 1980s with a series of dark and disturbing short stories. Since then he has written four novels, including To Live (2003) and Brothers (2010), and published several volumes of essays. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. His most recent book, China in Ten Words (2011), will be published this November by Pantheon.




Zha Jianying

ZHA Jianying (查建英) is a writer, television commentator, and China Representative of the India China Institute at The New School. She is the author of two books in English, China Pop: How Soap Operas, Tabloids, and Bestsellers Are Transforming a Culture (1996) and Tide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China (2011), and five books in Chinese: three collections of fiction and two non-fiction books, including Bashi Niandai (The Eighties, 2006), an award-winning cultural retrospective of the 1980s in China. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, she has published widely in both Chinese and English for a variety of publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Dushu and Wanxiang. Born and raised in Beijing, she was educated in China and the United States, receiving degrees from Peking University, University of South Carolina, and Columbia University. She divides her time between Beijing and New York. She has appeared frequently in television talk-shows in China as a commentator on social and cultural topics.


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Allan Barr

ALLAN BARR has translated a collection of short stories by Yu Hua and his debut novel Cries in the Drizzle (2007), in addition to Yu Hua's most recent book, China in Ten Words (2011). He is Professor of Chinese at Pomona College.


Martin Merz

MARTIN MERZ took a BA(Hons) in Chinese at Melbourne University and continued language study in Taiwan. He received an MA in applied translation from the Open University of Hong Kong in 2009. Martin translated the modern Peking Opera, Mulian Rescues His Mother, which has been performed in Hong Kong and London, and recently The Christmas Eve by Li Er for Makedo Publishing. Martin co-translated with Jane Weizhen Pan Wang Gang’s novel English, published by Penguin in 2009, a seventeenth-century opera by Li Yu, subtitles of the movie The Piano in a Factory (2010), Table d’Hôte an excerpt of Murong Xuecun’s Most People Died of Greed, for Asia Literary Review.


Deborah Sook Bang

DEBORAH SOOK-BANG is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine who was raised in Korea and the United States and lived for six years in Beijing while she completed her medical studies.She has extensive experience as an interpreter and has worked for the PEN World Voices International Literary Festival, the United Nations, various academic conferences, interviews and literary events.


Joanne Wang

JOANNE WANG earned a BA in English literature from Fudan University in Shanghai and an MA in history in New York. She works as a freelance translator and interpreter, in addition to running her own literary agency with a strong focus on works by Chinese writers.


Nancy Wang

NANCY HAO WANG is a graduate student in Arts Administration Program at New York University. She received her Bachelor Degrees in both Economics and Film & Television Studies from Peking University. As a current intern at Asia Society, Nancy demonstrates a strong interest in international culture exchange. Before joining Asia Society, she worked at Salon De Virtuosi, an NPO organizing concerts in different consulates, and International Concerts, a company presenting international artists. As a co-writer, she authored Diary of Peking University, which was published by Shanghai Wenhui Press in 2008.


Jane Weizhen Pan

JANE WEIZHEN PAN is a translator between Chinese and English. Jane and Martin Merz co-translated Wang Gang’s English, published by Penguin in 2009, a seventeenth-century opera by Li Yu, subtitles of the movie The Piano in a Factory (2010), and Table d’Hôte, an excerpt of Murong Xuecun’s Most People Died of Greed, for Asia Literary Review. Jane recently translated The Magician of 1919 by Li Er for Makedo Publishing. Her current project is translating a puppet show script adapted from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland into Mandarin and Cantonese. Jane has a Masters degree in translation studies from Monash University and taught translation at RMIT University. She is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University researching nonsense literature.


Zhang Li

ZHANG LI received his BA in Chinese Literature from Peking University (2006) and MA in Comparative Literature from SOAS, University of London (2007). He is now a PhD student in modern Chinese literature at Columbia and a member of the Institute of Comparative Literature and Society. His research interests include the interaction between science, technology and late imperial/early modern Chinese literature, modern Chinese poetry and colonialism and literature in East Asia.


Zhong Yurou

ZHONG YUROU is a PhD candidate in the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. As a translator and interpreter she has worked for conferences, workshops and film festivals across the Pacific in both China and the United States. She is currently completing a dissertation on the transnational making of modern Chinese language reform.


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