Archive for April, 2013

Putong Hua: Home

Tonight 8:00pm at The Bookworm.

What better way to spend a Friday than to listen to and maybe join in some knee-slapping, tear-herking, good old-fashioned story telling. Putong Hua is back! This month’s theme: HOME.

Here’s a little something to get those creative juices flowing:

1. Three storytellers tell The Moth something about home. A writer and his sister take a trip home to bury their mother. A grandson brings joy to a nursing home. A Georgian woman goes to war to prevent her family home from being turned into a golf clubhouse.

2. Forget movie star home tours, take a Google maps tour of famous writers’ homes instead.

Ernest Hemingway’s apartment at 113 Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs — Paris France

 2. More eye porn for the book lover. Architectural Digest picks the best home libraries.



Literary Links

Are these the best translated books of the year? No Chinese-language ones featured…but perhaps that will soon change? Who do you think should make the list?

Taiye Selasi, author of the excellent Ghana Must Go, shares her writing playlist.

Were loving this app concept from Literature Across Frontiers. Gimbal allows you to navigate a city via its fiction. What books would you include for the Beijing-version?

A great loss for the literary world. E.L. Konigsburg passed away this week. “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler” is one of our favorite books. Period. Who doesn’t want to spend the night in the Museum of Natural History?!

LumDimSum Interview Comedian Des Bishop

The fabulous LumDimSum has a great interview with comedian Des Bishop, the mastermind behind The Bookworm’s new monthy comedy club. Here are a few gems from their chat.

Des Bishop performs Saturday, April 27, 8:00pm. 100rmb. 

Shanghai is Pamela Anderson and Beijing is Scarlett Johansson. – Des Bishop

LDS: How did you come up with the idea to come to China for a year to learn Chinese in an effort to complete a stand-up show in Chinese to a Chinese audience within a year’s time? Of all the languages and countries to live for a year, why China?

DB: I worked in Dublin with a friend from China at a time when I was into Kung Fu and obsessed with all-things-Chinese. I went to

visit him in Dalian in 2004, and went back a few times after to travel around China myself. I thought China was really interesting in that it was very different from the West, not in a traditional way, but in how China had become what it is today. It shocked me in a good way, it caught me by surprise.

After doing a series about learning the Irish language and hearing more and more people talk about China, I didn’t feel like people were showing too much of what China was about. The method of learning a language and doing a gig is a great way to tell a story of a place. The challenging side of it, is that it took me five years to get it together, but it’s fun for a tv show and most people think I’m out of my mind anyway.

LDS: Comparing your previous experiences in China, what’s been the most noticeable changes this time around?

DB: When I came back to Beijing from Shanghai in 2009, I thought there was such a contrast to Shanghai feeling so much more international and modern and Beijing feeling a bit more Chinese, a bit more real. I think, maybe to a degree, Beijing is a little more international than it used to be (not going to make a decision on whether that’s good or bad), but already I notice hutong areas are hip in an international city way like East London or certain parts of Brooklyn. There’s a coolness in the hutongs. Something I’ve definitely noticed this time is that Chinese people have a lot more cash. I can’t back that up with facts, but even my Chinese friends are much more into shopping, they’re more flash.

LDS: More than just your goal of completing a Chinese stand-up show, you also have a film crew documenting your progress throughout the year for a new TV series. What do you want people abroad to see?

DB: I hope to observe cultural differences first-hand. Right now, all I know are the basic non-sensical stereotypes like “Beijing people use a lot of r’s” and “Shanghai people think they’re better than everyone else”. I want to learn more about each place, what’s unique about them, but I don’t want to learn about these things through reading Lonely Planet. I want to experience it myself and hear it through Chinese people themselves.

LDS: Observations so far?

DB: To me, Beijing and Shanghai are two very interesting cities because Shanghai is like that girl you see and you think, “Oh my god, she’s so hot, I just want to grab that” whereas Beijing is like a girl you don’t really know straight away, but then you get to know her and you realize she’s incredibly sexy, but doesn’t show it off. She’s the one you marry.

Shanghai is Pamela Anderson and Beijing is Scarlett Johansson.

Read the rest of LDS’s interview with Des Bishop at

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