Cover: A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure across the Pacific, from Harvard University PressCover: A Floating Chinaman in HARDCOVER

A Floating Chinaman

Fantasy and Failure across the Pacific

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Product Details


$31.00 • £24.95 • €28.00

ISBN 9780674967908

Publication Date: 06/07/2016

Academic Trade

288 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


Hsu frames [H. T.] Tsiang’s marginal status as a deliberate act of rebellion. His incomprehensibility staked out the boundaries of the possible. Americans were eager for a white woman [Pearl Buck] to tell them about the rural China of yesteryear; they were not so ready for a prickly Chinese immigrant to spell out the limitations of their own political system.—Jamie Fisher, The Times Literary Supplement

[A] lively debut… [H. T.] Tsiang’s eclectic writings and unusual life provide a great deal of grist for Hsu… Hsu writes in a graceful manner about Tsiang and the people he considered rivals… Tsiang comes across as a fascinating and sometimes maddening figure.—Jeffrey Wasserstrom, The Wall Street Journal

This tome documenting the race between historians competing for the title of America’s foremost expert on China is an absorbing read that transcends the stuffy corridors of academia… A Floating Chinaman is destined to become required reading.—Liz Raiss, The Fader

[A] smart new book.—Viet Thanh Nguyen, The New York Times Book Review

Hua Hsu gives us a playful, colorful, formidable book, overflowing with archival research and without a single dull moment. A complex weave of authority and knowledge is presented here through many self-appointed spokesmen for China, all unforgettable. The stakes of rediscovering China, over and over again, have never been higher, or more absorbing to read.—Wai Chee Dimock, Yale University

It’s no secret that Hua Hsu is one of the finest cultural critics writing today. Now, in the barely-remembered Chinese-American H. T. Tsiang, Hsu has found a fascinating, unruly figure worthy of his own prodigious gifts. I loved reading A Floating Chinaman, and I wonder what Tsiang—that fame-seeking outsider, literary hustler, and New York ghost par excellence—would have made of this book, which informs and surprises on every page.—Ed Park, author of Personal Days

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