From the woman who launched China’s textile industry to the emperor who’d rather slice his gown than wake his lover – inspiring a euphemism for queer love still used today – China has always been a place full of larger-than-life characters who have refused to conform to the norms of the day, including those of gender, social convention and political orthodoxy. Renowned author Linda Jaivin puts forth that the ‘China Story’ told by the Chinese Communist Party today tends to push the non-conformists from the margins to off the edge of the page altogether and that the Communist Party’s claims to speak for all Chinese people is contributing to rising anti-Chinese sentiment. At a time when censorship increasingly silences China’s most vibrant free thinkers at home and abroad, Linda believes that it’s more important than ever to recognise that China is and always has been a place of vibrant, diverse and often inspirational humanity.

Linda Jaivin (Australian)

Linda Jaivin

The Shortest History of China is Linda Jaivin’s twelfth book, and her fifth work of non-fiction, along with the China memoir The Monkey and the Dragon and the Quarterly Essay ‘Found in Translation’. Her seven novels include two based in China, the historical fiction A Most Immoral Woman and The Empress Lover. She is also a prolific essayist, cultural commentator and literary translator from Chinese, specialising in film subtitling (including Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine, Zhang Yimou’s Hero and Wong Kar Wai’s Grandmaster). She is also co-editor of the China Story Yearbook published by the Australian Centre on China in the World at the Australian National University. She graduated from Brown University with honours and has a degree in Asian History. Linda lived for nine years in Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China before settling in Australia, where she is a citizen. She lives in Sydney.