Bird Talk and other Stories by Xu Xu: Modern Tales of a Chinese Romantic | Mechanics' Institute

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Bird Talk and other Stories by Xu Xu: Modern Tales of a Chinese Romantic
with Frederik H. Green and Fiammetta Hsu Yin Peh 徐尹白

This event has been produced in collaboration with the San Francisco Writers Conference. It will be conducted virtually via Zoom. To register please click on “Register Now” to the right.

Frederik H Green, professor of Chinese literature at SF State and translator of the important mid-20th century Chinese writer Xu Xu, will be in conversation with Xu Xu's daughter Fiammetta Hsu who is currently in the process of archiving her late father's personal correspondences.

Xu Xu 徐訏 (1908-1980) was one of the most widely read Chinese authors of the 1930s to 1960s. His urban gothic tales and exotic romances of the 1930s, his war-time spy fiction, and his quasi-existentialist tales from post-war Hong Kong full of nostalgia and melancholy offer readers an unusual glimpse of China’s turbulent twentieth century.

In this literary roundtable, Frederik H. Green and Fiammetta Hsu will discuss the life and times of Xu Xu and sketch out his literary and intellectual trajectory. Fiammetta Hsu will further share personal memories and will discuss the cultural significance of her late father’s correspondences with other Chinese intellectuals in exile. Green will then share some of the joys and pitfalls of embarking on his translation project and will read excerpts from his translations that represent some of Xu Xu’s most important works.

To read a review of Bird Talk please visit this link.

Fiammetta Hsu Yin Peh 徐尹白 is the youngest daughter of Xu Xu 徐訏 (1908-1980), an important Chinese writer and critic who helped shape the Chinese literary landscape in the mid-20th century. Fiammetta was born in Taiwan, but grew up mostly in Hong Kong where her famous father had taken refuge in 1950, shortly after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Fiammetta and her parents also briefly lived in Singapore until they were expelled during a time of political upheavals in 1961. After high school in Hong Kong, Fiammetta attended Université Paul Valéry in Montpellier, France from where she graduated with a teaching diploma. In 1976, she immigrated to the United States where she embarked on a long career in IT. More recently, Fiammetta has begun archiving her late father’s correspondences consisting of hundreds of letters exchanged with notable Chinese intellectuals and other cultural figures.

Frederik H. Green is associate professor of Chinese at San Francisco State University. He holds a BA in Chinese Studies from Cambridge University and a PhD in Chinese literature from Yale University. He has published widely on the literature and culture of 20th-century China. Frederik’s long-time fascination with the fiction of Xu Xu culminated in last year's publication of Bird Talk and Other Stories by Xu Xu: Modern Tales of a Chinese Romantic (Stone Bridge Press), a translation and study of representative works by this unusual Chinese author. Originally a native of northern Germany, Frederik now resides in San Francisco.

If you have any questions about this event please contact Taryn Edwards, [email protected]

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