BOOK REVIEWS 509 THE AVANT-GARDE AND THE POPULAR IN MODERN CHINA: TIAN HAN AND THE INTERSECTION OF PERFORMANCE AND POLITICS. By Liang Luo. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014. 367 pp. Paperback, $38.95. Liang Luo’s book, The Avant-Garde and the Popular in Modern China is the pre-eminent resource for information on the Chinese dramatist Tian Han, whose significance to theatre history far exceeds the breadth of previously available English-language material. For this alone, it merits a refresher of the content, particularly as an informal poll of the field suggests more books on socialist theatre history are forthcoming, which will invariably confront the problem of situating Tian Han the politician. Luo’s work looks to remain an essential preface to any study of the socialist era, as she covers the genesis and development of Tian Han’s artistic and political awakenings from the 1920s to the early 1950s. By interweaving a nuanced analysis of artistic proclivities with political self-positioning, Luo reveals a depth and complexity to Tian’s character that reminds the reader of the need to assess his work with a significantly critical eye. More broadly, Luo argues the avant-garde in China historically is located in the political and the popular.
Asian Theatre Journal – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Oct 4, 2019
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