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Chasing the Modern


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"In this absorbing, elegant biography of his grandfather, Tony Hsu has given us much more than the story of one of China's most important early twentieth-century poets; he has also opened a rare window into the ways in which art and literature led China out of feudalism and into the modern world. As Xu Zhimo's poetry pushed past the boundaries of his era, so did his struggle to live and love as a modern man-giving this book a level of novelistic power not often found in even the most rewarding works of history." -Nicole Mones, author of Night in Shanghai and The Last Chinese Chef "In Chasing the Modern, Tony Hsu has gifted us with a graceful and yet unsparing peephole into the life of Xu Zhimo, whose pristine poetry was drawn from an unexpectedly short and turbulent life. This is the best sort of biography; one with all the drive, tension, and unflinching honesty of a first-rate historical novel. That Xu's story happens to be true makes it all the more remarkable." -Jennifer Cody Epstein, author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment "A captivating page-turner that sheds light on the intimate thoughts and tumultuous life of Xu Zhimo, one of China's most important twentieth-century poets. In Tony Hsu's exploration of his grandfather's life, we see the backdrop of China's momentous march toward modernity come to life-as well as a vivid portrait of a man who lived, loved, and wrote memorably." -Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, author of Sarong Party Girls and A Tiger in the Kitchen "The richness and beauty of Xu Zhimo's poems are deepened for us by this new biography by Tony Hsu. In a labor of love, Hsu has visited the sites of the poet's travels and sojourns and amassed an imposing amount of information from biographies, diaries, letters, memoirs and interviews. In addition to the nuanced portrait of Zhimo himself, his grandson treats with sympathetic understanding the three women who shared in the poet's search for love." -Cyril Birch, professor emeritus at UC Berkeley "It is the moment to commemorate all the milestones of great Chinese poetry in the twentieth century so as to raise our awareness of how meaningful the role of poetry is in the new era of globalization. With this aim in mind, Xu Zhimo and Tony Hsu prove the continuity of Chinese poetry, or simply, poetry, to us. Chasing the Modern is wonderful and substantial." -Yang Lian, poet and author of Where the Sea Stands Still "Chasing the Modern offers extraordinary insights into the life of a genius-one whose far too brief existence in this world was marked by both an infectious joie de vivre and a dark tragedy, qualities reflected in his timeless poems. In turn, Tony Hsu has drawn a complex portrait of this tormented legendary Chinese poet. A brilliant tribute!" -Ben Wang, co-chair of the Renwen Society, New York

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