Linda Jaivin

Linda Jaivin is an author and translator of Chinese. Her books include Eat Me, The Infernal Optimist and A Most Immoral Woman. Her most recent works are the novel The Empress Lover and the Quarterly Essay ‘Found in Translation’.

Articles by this author

Image of poster in Beijing of President Xi Jinping
Ready or not, China is here
The new era
“I have a question.” A girl sitting at the back of the classroom raised her hand. When I lecture at mainland Chinese universities in film and television subtitling, discussions...
Text; $27.99
‘Between the World and Me’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates
On learning that the police officer who killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, had been exonerated, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ son went to his room and wept....
Australian universities need US-style funding, not US-style fees
Every Friday the 13th and Leap Day is Carberry Day on the campus of Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island. It is named for Josiah S Carberry, the university’s famous...
A&U Canongate; $27.99
‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ by Caitlin Doughty
Caitlin Doughty begins this funny, smart, clear-eyed and compassionate book about death with an account of how the exotic dancer-turned-spy Mata Hari chose to stand unbound and...
Does the future belong to “sharing economy” companies like Uber and Airbnb?
The share market
My introduction to what is now called the “sharing economy” came in the mid ’90s on the road to Byron Bay. My boyfriend at the time was a candle-maker; we were driving up to the...
Mass murderer Anders Breivik on trial. © Frank Augstein / AP
Anne Manne’s ‘The Life of I’ takes aim at a modern epidemic
The rising tide of narcissism
A recent cartoon by Alan Moir depicts four people sitting around a table: a woman in a wheelchair, an elderly man, a youth and, taking up as much space as the other three put...
A postcard showing the interior of Stateville Correctional Centre, Illinois, modelled on Bentham’s Panopticon. Courtesy of Alex Wellerstein
Privacy is fast becoming a quaint old-fashioned thing
The end of secrets
On a Sunday afternoon in late April, in a grand old ballroom in Melbourne, I read aloud a love letter I’d written to a man I call “my mysterious stranger”. The man, never named in...
The islands Japan calls Senkaku and China calls Diaoyu. © Kyodo / Reuters 
Why is Australia taking sides in the East China Sea?
Japan, China, Senkaku, Diaoyu
When a friend of mine was a little boy in Taiwan, and his parents fought, his father would run onto the street to scream at his mother, who was still inside, so that the...
Quarterly Essay 52, Found in Translation: In Praise of a Plural World is published by Black Inc.
Found in translation
When reading in one’s own language, it’s not unusual to come across a word or phrase that is difficult to decipher, even in context: twerking, for example. The...
Children performing for tourists in Sinuiju, North Korea. © Linda Jaivin
Big statues, high swings and a ‘Sound of Music’ sing-along
A day in North Korea
Our bus, the only vehicle on the road, mounts the truss bridge. Crisscrossing girders slice the pale morning light into shafts and planes that create layers of wispy veils. At the...
Jonathan Cape; $32.95
Jung Chang’s ‘Empress Dowager Cixi’
Although Empress Dowager Cixi agreed to sit for a portrait by the American artist Katharine Carl in 1903, she forbade Carl to use Western techniques of perspective for the face....
Michelle Garnaut in her Beijing restaurant, Capital M

© Michelle Garnaut

Her kitchen rules
Dining out with Michelle Garnaut
Michelle Garnaut and I were finishing lunch at Capital M, her Beijing restaurant. The waiter set down our coffees: a macchiato for me and a plunger for her. I was mid chocolate...
The slash pile
The cheap thrills of fan fiction
Ever imagined Paul Keating and Germaine Greer getting it on to the rhythm of Keating’s Redfern speech? Jennifer Byrne has. Brendan Cowell has done it with a bhang lassi...
Illustration by Jeff Fisher.
Forty years of Australian–Chinese diplomacy
Fairweather mates
“I love you, love you, like a mouse loves rice.” The lyrics to this Chinese pop song are as cute as the choir of primary school students who sang them in flawless Mandarin to kick...
'Echo and Narcissus' (detail), 1903, John William Waterhouse
Confessions of a graphomaniac
Echo Chamber
Hello. My name is Linda and I am a graphomaniac. The condition, an uncontrollable impulsion to write, was first noted by the nineteenth-century French psychiatrist Jean-Etienne...
'The Hall of Uselessness', By Simon Leys, Black Inc, 512pp; $49.95
‘The Hall of Uselessness’ by Simon Leys
The Hall of Uselessness, a compendium of Simon Leys’s cultural and political commentary, is an elegant mansion of many rooms, connected by ingenious pathways, carpeted with wit...
A Siberian tiger feeds on a live chicken in the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin, 2011. © How Hwee Young/EPA/Corbis
Harbin, China
Holiday on ice
“Five bus tickets, one turkey and one lamb, please.” My friend then turns to the rest of us: “Karmically speaking, we’re going to hell.” That may well be so. In the short run, we...
Protestors march in Hong Kong in support of Liu Xiaobo, January 2010. © Tyrone Siu / Reuters
Liu Xiaobo
A nobel affair
Han Han, the handsome 28-year-old race car driver, bestselling novelist, publisher, singer and China’s most popular blogger, has never been known for delicate restraint. Articles...