DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Books

Top 5 books about China, chosen by Xinran Xue

The British-Chinese author, journalist and activist selects five books that explore Chinese history and culture

The Great Wall of China. Image: Hanson Lu on Unsplash

Author Xinran Xue selects her top picks when it comes to books about China.

1 Cherries on a Pomegranate Tree by Li Er

This tells the story of one woman’s above and beyond leadership through the anxious times of one-child policy crackdowns. Li Er’s admiration for the unheard voices of those impacted by these regulations are nimbly elevated through an unforgettable cast of characters.

2 Faces in the Crowd: 36 Extraordinary Tales of Tianjin by Feng Jicai

The port of Tianjin is where the ancient Chinese empire met the sea. The turn of the 20th century was a tumultuous time for the city, with the Qing dynasty on its last legs and the Boxers unleashing their ill-fated rebellion against the European trading concessions that had colonised its streets.

3 Getting Things Done by Feng Tang

The best book on eastern management wisdom, combining Chinese historic perspective and McKinsey style of management thinking.

4 Cloud Chamber by Tim Clissold

This is a selection of medieval Chinese poems relevant to contemporary life in the West; ancient Chinese poets writing of the dangers of excess logging of forests, social inequality, homelessness, tax evasion and substance abuse. It provides a bridge between the wisdom of these ancient masters and our preoccupations today.

5 Souls Left Behind by Fan Wu

During the First World War, 140,000 Chinese labourers supported France and Britain’s war effort in Europe. They conducted arduous work, but their contribution has barely been recognised. Fan Wu’s well-researched novel depicts this little-known history. It’s a story of hardship, survival and love, as well as of belonging and how history shapes us. 

Xinran Xue is the author of nine books published worldwide, including The Good Women of China, Sky Burial and The Promise. You can buy them from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.

To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'The threat to our rights': Women share what keeps them awake at night in honour of Ulysses' Molly Bloom
Illustration by Chris Bentham
Books

'The threat to our rights': Women share what keeps them awake at night in honour of Ulysses' Molly Bloom

Top 5 children's books for summer
Books

Top 5 children's books for summer

'Future is as shaky as its ever been': Will Baillie Gifford funding row kill our book festivals?
Books

'Future is as shaky as its ever been': Will Baillie Gifford funding row kill our book festivals?

How books can help children understand the crushing challenges of poverty
Books

How books can help children understand the crushing challenges of poverty

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know