Sidney Rittenberg is a labor activist from Charleston, South Carolina, who went to China as a translator for the U.S. Army in 1945 and stayed until 1980.
In this episode, Sidney talks about the conditions he endured during his two periods of solitary confinement, Sino-American relations, the behavior of Russian advisers sent to China by the Soviet Union, and much more. Part one of our interview is here.
You can read a Q&A with Sidney on SupChina here. You can buy Sidney’s books: an autobiography, The Man Who Stayed Behind, and Manage Your Mind: Set Yourself Free, on lessons he learned while in solitary confinement. The Revolutionary is a documentary film about his life (also available on Amazon).
Sidney Rittenberg was a labor activist in the American South before going to China as a translator for the U.S. Army in 1945. He stayed there until 1980, joining the Communist Party and going to the revolutionary base at Yan’an, where he got to know Mao Zedong and other senior members of the Party who went on to govern China. He also spent 16 years in solitary confinement.
In this first episode of a two-part interview, Kaiser and Jeremy talk to Sidney about his fascinating life story.
You can read a Q&A with Sidney on SupChina here. You can buy Sidney’s books: an autobiography, The Man Who Stayed Behind, and Manage Your Mind: Set Yourself Free, on lessons he learned while in solitary confinement. The Revolutionary is a documentary film about his life.
Ken Liu is a science-fiction writer, translator, computer programmer, and lawyer. He has written two novels and more than 100 short stories. His short story “The Paper Menagerie” is the first work of fiction, of any length, to win all three of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards. Among his translations are two of the three parts of the Chinese science-fiction hit The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin.
In this episode of the Sinica Podcast, Ken talks to Kaiser and Jeremy about his own work, the significance of The Three-Body Problem in the Chinese literary world, and the current state of Chinese science fiction.
Jeremy: Understanding China Through Comics series, by Liu Jing: Foundations of Chinese Civilization: The Yellow Emperor to the Han Dynasty, Division to Unification in Imperial China: The Three Kingdoms to the Tang Dynasty, and Barbarians and the Birth of Chinese Identity: The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms to the Yuan Dynasty.
Ken: Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, by Bee Wilson.
Kaiser: Deadwood TV series.
Invisible Planets: An anthology of contemporary Chinese science fiction, translated by Ken Liu.
Alec Ash is a young British writer who lives in Beijing, who has covered “left behind” children in Chinese villages, the “toughest high school exam in the world” and internet live streaming among many other subjects. He is the author of Wish Lanterns, which the Financial Times called a “closely observed study of China’s millennials.” The book tells the stories of six Chinese people born between 1985 and 1990. The characters have very different backgrounds and aspirations, including a rock musician named Lucifer, an internet addict named Snail, and a patriotic Party official’s daughter.
In this episode of the Sinica Podcast, Alec discusses his book with Kaiser, Jeremy, and David Moser. He talks about contemporary youth culture in China, the concerns of Chinese millennials, how he met the six characters in the book and what we can understand about China’s changing culture from their stories.
Jeremy: Unreliable Sources: How the Twentieth Century Was Reported, by John Simpson.
David: The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China, edited by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom.
Alec: The Barbarians at the Gate podcast.
Kaiser: Battle Cry of Freedom, by James M. McPherson — ”the best single-volume history of the American Civil War that I know of” — and Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping, by Stephen R. Platt.