Endless column inches are devoted to think pieces and hot takes on the rise of China, but genuine understanding and meaningful conversation continue to elude us. Under his nom de plume Murong Xuecun, Hao Qun is one of China’s most celebrated authors, a genuinely independent voice in fiction and non-fiction. He recently left China to publish Deadly Quiet City: Stories from Wuhan, Covid Ground Zero, which cuts through speculation to tell real stories of intimate experiences of Chinese citizens during an epic global tragedy. Now in Australia, Murong joins Linda Jaivin (The Shortest History of China) and Louisa Lim (Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong) for a conversation that goes beyond broad media commentary, with the BBC’s Frances Mao.

Murong Xuecun (International)

Murong Xuecun

Murong Xuecun (nom de plume of Hao Qun) is one of China’s most famous authors. Through his novels and narrative non-fiction, he has been a rare independent voice writing from inside China. Murong’s first novel, Leave Me Alone: A novel of Chengdu, took China by storm in 2002. His recent books include the novel Dancing Through Red Dust, the non-fiction People’s Literature Prize winner The Missing Ingredient, and Deadly Quiet Streets, an unforgettable collection of true stories from the early months of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan. Murong has also written for The New York Times since 2011, including an opinion column from 2013 to 2016.

Linda Jaivin (Australian)

Linda Jaivin

Linda is the author of twelve books, including seven novels. Her latest book, the nonfiction The Shortest History of China, was named the top book on China in 2021 by fivebooks.com; published in the US and UK as well, it is being translated into Greek, Italian, Russian, Japanese and a number of other languages including (Taiwan) Chinese. She is also a prolific essayist, cultural commentator, film subtitler (translating Chinese films), and co-editor of the China Story Yearbook.

Louisa Lim (Australian)

Louisa Lim

Louisa Lim is the author of Indelible City; Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong. Her earlier book The People's Republic of Amnesia; Tiananmen Revisited was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. She is an award-winning journalist and podcaster, who spent ten years reporting from China for the BBC and NPR. She is now a Senior Lecturer in Audiovisual Journalism at the University of Melbourne, and co host of The Little Red Podcast.

Frances Mao (Australian)

Frances Mao

Frances Mao is a journalist covering Asia for the BBC World News in their Singapore bureau. She was previously their Australia writer in Sydney for four years where she covered the deterioration of China-Australia relations, the Black Summer bushfires and other climate catastrophes, refugee cases, numerous political scandals and so many shark attacks. Prior to the BBC, she worked in newsrooms at AAP, MSN, and Sky Business. She has degrees in law and journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney.