Learn German Business Strategies in Chinese

A big thank you to author Sonja Franzl-Zinkle for donating her book, Modern German Business Etiquette Guide, which she co-wrote with Oliver Noelle and Alexa Strohschein. Ms. Zinkle was an IST parent only a couple of years ago. We are delighted that she remembered us and has given us a copy of her book to include in our library collection.

Best wishes, Sonja. We hope you continue writing. Say hi to your family!

Mo Yan, the 2012 Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature

Mo Yan, born on 17 February 1955, is a Chinese novelist and short story writer. Before 2012, he was mostly know for the two of his novels that formed the basis of the film Red Sorghum, directed by award-winning Chinese director Zhang Yimou. Mo is currently the only Chinese author who has won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

“”Mo Yan” — meaning “don’t speak” in Chinese — is his pen name. In an interview with Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, he explains that name comes from a warning from his father and mother not to speak his mind while outside, because of China’s revolutionary political situation from the 1950s, when he grew up. The pen name also relates to the subject matter of Mo Yan’s writings, which reinterpret Chinese political and sexual history.”

“Mo Yan’s works are epic historical novels characterised by hallucinatory realism and containing elements of black humor. A major theme in Mo Yan’s works is the constancy of human greed and corruption, despite the influence of ideology. Using dazzling, complex, and often graphically violent images, he sets many of his stories near his hometown, Northeast Gaomi Township in Shandong province. ”

The Garlic Ballads
Shifu: You’ll Do Anything for a Laugh
홍까오량 가족

The above titles are available at the IST library.

“Mo Yan.” Mo Yan. N.p., 5 Nov. 2012. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://history.cultural-china.com/features/moyan/index.html>.

Easy and Cool–View Chinese Character Movies and Practice Online!

Let’s start with a few question: Is Chinese the most difficult language in the world? Are Chinese characters impossible to learn?

Click this link: View Character Movie and hope you will agree with me that there really is an easy and cool way to learn this language. Practice with the magic pen and enjoy the learning experience.

On the same page the explanation of the character is introduced in both English and Chinese with samples and frequency. e.g. 好 (hǎo): 17.451‱

If you are curious about how many Chinese characters you know please check 500 most common Chinese characters. View IST World Language wiki for more online Chinese learning tools.

View Character Movie

Book Review: To Live, by Yu Hua

Thanks to Mr. Sidney Suo for his review below of the book To Live, by Yu Hua. Translation is by Sky Zhang, a grade 10 student.

Among many award-winning Chinese authors Yu Hua was the first Chinese writer to receive James Joyce Award (2002). His novels have been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Japanese, Korean and many other languages. To Live is the most loved book by Yu Hua and it won Premio Grinzane Cavour, an award voted by Italian young readers and the Man Asian Literary Prize, an annual literary award given to the best novel by an Asian writer.

“Yu Hua is the most profound voice coming out of China today. To Live reaches not only into the very essence of the Chinese people but into the blood and bones core of what it means to be a human being.” Lisa See, author of On Gold Mountain

Books by Yu Hua are displayed with works by other contemporary Chinese authors as Su Tong, Mo Yan, etc., at a special location in the library. Non-fiction books on Chinese philosophy and Chinese history in Chinese and English are also available.

To Live

To Live was the first the book written by Yu Hua that I have read. After reading it for the first time about 10 years ago, I have read other works such as Shouting in the Rain, Chronicle of a Blood Merchant and Brothers by the same author. In comparison, To Live affected me the most and left me with the strongest impression.

I remember finishing this rather thin book in one sitting on a humid, warm afternoon in spring, unable to calm down my thoughts. The story took place at a time of change in the last century, and its captivating plot and life-like characters left me with a feeling of sorrow and grief which clung to my heart, and, like the humidity in the air that day, was unable to be waved away.

The story of To Live is told through the eyes of Fugui, who went through countless hardships and sufferings together with his family in those turbulent times. As the family’s only survivor and a witness of many unfortunate events, Fugui tells his story and experiences in a light-hearted way near the end of his life.

Lu Xun once said, tragedy is destroying something valuable in life for people to see. If this is true, then the story depicted in To Live is no doubt a total tragedy. The misfortunes in the characters’ lives caused even the carefree me ten years ago to shed tears. But being a grand piece of literature, the book not only showed life’s sufferings, it also sang of the greatness of life, and readers can’t help but be moved and emotionally warmed by the amazing humanity that the characters show even as they go through their tragic lives.

The title of the book, To Live, directs a fundamental philosophical question at the reader: Why do people live? What is the purpose of people’s lives?

Through the book’s most tragic character, Jiazhen, I seem to have found the answer, the message that Yu Hua wants to send to his readers: people live for the sake of living and nothing else.

My fellow readers, if, like me, you happen to have an afternoon to yourself and read this wonder of a novel, I believe that you too will find the answer that you are seeking for, comforting your sorrows and soothing your grief…

Linking Chinese Culture with 5 Characters and 10 books

Beauty, Wisdom, Elegance, Charm, Harmony

Culture is a huge word and contains a variety of aspects such as language, social customs, habits, arts, music, drama, literature, religion and values.

For the beginner of Chinese culture I am going to introduce 5 characters and recommend 10 books for a start.

All the books that are mentioned can be found in the IST library collection.

1. 美 Beauty

782.1 TAN

Tan Gudnason, Jessica, et al. Chinese Opera. New York: Abbeville Press, 2001.

The Chinese opera’s roots extended back to the Tang Dynasty. The most famous Chinese opera is京劇. Beijing opera is a form of traditional Chinese theatre which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. The form was extremely popular in the Qing Dynasty court and has come to be regarded as one of the cultural treasures of China.

Chinese Opera offers glimpses of the history and highlights of Beijing and other opera traditions. The authors want to share their appreciation and love of this classical art with readers.


Wang, Luxiang, et al. Shen Ren Gong Ju (Xizang) = Living with Deities They Worship (Tibet). Hangzhou : Zhejiang People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, 2000.

神人共居 (西藏) Living with Deities They Worship(Tibet) gives you a brief picture of Tibetan vernacular architecture. Four other books in the same series (Local Structures in China) are also available from the IST library collection.

732 ANC

Wu, Wen, and Shuming Sun. Ancient Sculpture. Culture of China. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2002.

This is a collection of sculptures from different dynasties of ancient China. Though the size of the book is small it provides a visual feast of works of art in stone, clay, metal and wood

2. 智 Wisdom

Confucius and Lao Tzu were two great philosophers in the history of China. Their theories are prominent in Chinese thought and have been followed by Chinese people for thousands of years. The following quotes are selected from their master works.

上善若水 “The highest good is like that of water. The goodness of water is that it benefits the ten thousand creatures; yet itself does not scramble, but is content with the places that all men distain. It is this that makes water so near to the Way” (Lao Tzu).

君子和而不同 “The Master said, The true gentleman is conciliatory but not accommodating. Common people are accommodating but not conciliatory ”  (Confucius).

181 CON

Confucius. The Analects. Trans. Arthur Waley.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1938.


Lao Tzu. Tao Te Jing. Trans. Arthur Waley. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 1998.

3. 雅 Elegance

琴棋书画 Qin Qin Shu Hua (music, chess, calligraphy and painting) are considered “the four arts”. In ancient China a learned scholar was accomplished in these “four arts”.


Trans. Xu, Yuanchong. Jing Xuan Shi Jing Yu Sh Yi Hua = Selections from the Book of Poetry (Illustrated edition). Beijing: China Intercontinental Press, 2006.

Chinese painting and poetry are high cultural achievements. This book is a perfect combination of these two forms of arts. Two other books from the same series can also be found in the IST library.

745.6 SHI

Shi, Bo. Between Heaven and Earth: A History of Chinese Writing. Boston: Shambhala, 2003.

The characters used in Chinese writing are not letters but stylized ideographs, each with its own history. In Between Heaven and Earth: a History of Chinese Writing master, calligrapher Shi Bo gives a fascinating overview of the evolution of seven seminal Chinese writing styles starting as far back as the 17th century BC. He also introduces the reader to the calligrapher’s art, including its materials and techniques.

4. 韻 Charm


Young, Ed. Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem About China. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2005.

Ed Young, Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator, was born in Tianjin. His illustrations and writing are full of Chinese flavor. All Ed Young’s award honor and winner books can be found in the IST library collection. Take a look at Beyond the Great Mountains and enjoy the beautiful verse and meaningful illustrations. All Ed Young’s award honor and winner books can be found in the IST library collection.

5. 和 Harmony

741.5 YAN

Yang, Gene Luen, and Lark Pien. American Born Chinese. New York: First Second, 2006.

Many Chinese people believe that everything in the universe can be explained as a balance between yin and yang. Yang represents energy and light and is a male force. Yin, the opposite of yang, is still, dark, and female. Many aspects of Chinese culture try to keep this balance and Chinese people generally try to find harmony within themselves and with others in all sides of their lives.

American Born Chinese, alternates three interrelated stories about the problems of young Chinese Americans trying to participate in the popular culture. The culture conflict is conquered by the inner harmony at last.

92 SU

Demi. Su Dongpo: Chinese Genius. New York: Lee & Low Books, 2006.

Su Dongpo is an illustrated biography of Su Dongpo, Chinese poet, civil engineer, and statesman, whose appreciation for nature and justice were evident in his works and led him to experience both triumph and adversity in eleventh-century China.

Demi, award winning author and illustrator, has traveled extensively and studied art in Mexico, India, and China. She holds a special place in her heart for Chinese culture and her books of Chinese stories and culture are highly recommended.

For more examples see also Yancy. “10 Things Related to Chinese Literature.” Web log post. Goodreads. 2 Feb. 2010. Web.