Director, UCLA Center for Chinese Studies
Professor of Asian Languages & Cultures/Film, Television and Digital Media
Michael Berry’s areas of research include modern and contemporary Chinese literature, Chinese cinema, popular culture in modern China, and literary translation. Berry’s approach is transnational and his work addresses the richness and diversity of Chinese art and culture as it has manifested itself in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other Sinophone communities. After earning a PhD in East Asian Languages & Cultures at Columbia University, Berry taught at UCSB for 13 years before joining UCLA in 2016. He is the Director of the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies. He also holds an affiliate appointment with the UCLA Department of Film, Television and Digital Media.
Michael Berry is the author of A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film, which explores literary and cinematic representations of atrocity in twentieth century China, Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers a collection of dialogues with contemporary Chinese filmmakers including Hou Hsiao-hsien, Zhang Yimou, Stanley Kwan, and Jia Zhangke, and the monograph, Jia Zhang-ke’s Hometown Trilogy, which offers extended analysis of the films Xiao Wu, Platform, and Unknown Pleasures. He is the author of a full-length interview books with award-winning film director Hou Hsiao-hsien, Boiling the Sea: Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Memories of Shadows and Light (in Chinese), and An Accented Cinema: Jia Zhangke on Jia Zhangke, a volume of conversations with Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke. He is the editor of The Musha Incident: A Reader in Taiwanese History and Culture and the co-editor of Divided Lenses: Screen Memories of War in East Asia and Modernism Revisited: Pai Hsien-yung and the Taiwan Literary Modernism Movement.
Berry recently completed a full-length book manuscript tentatively entitled “Translation and the Virus,” which explores the intersection between COVID-19, Sino-US relations, and disinformation campaigns through the lens of Wuhan Diary by Fang Fang. He is also working on a monograph that explores the United States as it has been imagined through Chinese film, from 1949-present. Other projects include a book-length collection of interview with pioneer of Chinese queer cinema, Cui Zi’en and a collection of conversations with leading Chinese writers, including Gao Xingjian, Zhang Ling, Wang Anyi, Yan Lianke, Ha Jin, and Kenneth Pai.
Also an active literary translator, Berry has translated several important contemporary Chinese novels by Yu Hua, Ye Zhaoyan, and Chang Ta-chun. His co-translation with Susan Chan Egan of Wang Anyi’s Song of Everlasting Sorrow was awarded Honorable Mention for the 2009 MLA Lois Roth Award for an outstanding translation of a literary work. In 2016, his translation of To Live was selected for the NEA’s “The Big Read” program. His translation of Wu He’s (Dancing Crane) award winning novel Remains of Life (Yu sheng), a fascinating literary exploration of the 1930 Musha Incident, was honored with a NEA Translation Fellowship and shortlisted for the Best Translated Books Award (BTBA). In February of 2020, at the very start of the COVID-19 outbreak, Berry began to translate Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City by Wuhan-based writer Fang Fang. The book was one of the earliest accounts of the unfolding global crisis; while targeted by nationalist trolls, the diary was widely reviewed by international media outlets and honored with numerous awards. Current literary translation projects include the modern martial arts novel The Last Swallow of Autumn (Xia yin) by Wenyi Chang, and the novel Soft Burial by Fang Fang, for which Berry was awarded a second NEA Translation Fellowship in 2021.
In addition to his academic writing, Berry extends the scope of his work through various media consultant positions, popular writings and jury service. He has frequently been featured in various mainstream media outlets in the US and China, including NPR, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the China Daily, and The People’s Daily. He is a contributor to the ChinaFile and his popular essays in Chinese have been published in the weekly Friday supplement of The Beijing News. He has served as a jury member for the Golden Horse Film Festival (2010, 2018), Fresh Wave Film Festival (2012), Los Angeles International Culture Film Festival (2017, 2019) and the Dream of the Red Chamber Literary Award (2012, 2014, 2016, 2018).
His work has received generous support from a variety of organizations, including the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, The Weatherhead Foundation, the China Times Cultural Foundation, and the National Endowment of the Arts.
- Jia Zhangke on Jia Zhangke (in Chinese). (Guangxi Normal University Press, 2021; Duke University Press, 2021).
- Boiling the Sea: Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Memories of Shadows and Light (in Chinese). (Taipei, INK, 2014; Guangxi Normal University Press, 2015).
- Jia Zhang-ke’s Hometown Trilogy (British Film Institute & Palgrave Macmillan, 2009; Simplified Chinese edition, Guangxi Normal University Press, 2010).
- A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film (Columbia University Press, 2008).
- Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers (Columbia University Press, 2005; Traditional Chinese edition, Rye Field 2007; Simplified Chinese Edition, Guangxi Normal University Press 2008).
Articles, Reviews & Entries
- “1939, October 15 Nanjing: Ah Long’s Lost Fictional Account of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre” and “April 1985: Of Roots and Earth” in Harvard New Literary History of Modern China, (Chinese edition). Rye Field, 2021.
- “Post-Martial Law Fiction in Taiwan” Online video lecture commissioned for Modern Chinese Literature and Culture’s Video Lecture Series. https://u.osu.edu/mclc/log-in/
- “Legend of the Mountain (1979): Rediscovering King Hu’s Land of Wayward Ghosts” in Yeh, David, Lin, eds. 33 Takes on Taiwan Cinema. University of Michigan Press, 2021.
- “I Translated ‘Wuhan Diary’ to amplify the author’s voice of courage” Washington Post op-ed feature, 2020.
- “Romancing Atrocity: Ye Zhaoyan’s Nanjing 1937: A Love Story” in Chinese Literature Today. July, 2020.
- “Liminal Cinema: PRC Film Genres of the New Era” in The Chinese Cinema Book. Bloomsbury, 2020.
- “Once Upon a Time in Shanghai” in Once Upon a Time in Shanghai. (Introduction to a photo book by Mark Parascandola. Daylight Books, 2019.
- “Response to ‘Taiwan Studies and the World’” in International Journal of Taiwan Studies,
- “From Fenyang to the World: Positioning Jia Zhangke” (Video Essay) in Jia Zhangke Box Set, Arrow Films, 2018.
- “Romancing Atrocity” in Southern Cultural Forum (Nanfang wentan), issue 6, 2016.
- “Taiwan Fiction in the Post-Martial Law Era” in the Columbia Companion of Modern Chinese Literature.Columbia University Press, 2016.
- “1939, October 15 Nanjing: Ah Long’s Lost Fictional Account of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre” and April 1985: Of Roots and Earth in Harvard New Literary History of Modern China, Harvard University Press, forthcoming, 2016.
- “Shooting the Enemy” and “Divided Lenses: Introduction” in Divided Lenses: Film and War Memory in East Asia University of Hawaii Press, 2016.
- “A Cultural Renaissance from the Ashes: Kenneth Pai on the Origins of Modern Literature,”“Shadows of a Lonely Flower: Kenneth Pai and Tsao Jui-yuan on Literary Adaptation” and “Crystal Boys, Desolate Men, and Ghosts: Kenneth Pai and the Development of Taiwan Queer Writing” in Modernism Revisited: Pai Hsien-yung and Taiwan Literary Modernism (Chongfan xiandai: Bai Xianyong, Xiandai wenxue, xiandaizhuyi). Rye Field, 2015.*
- “Imperialist Limbos: Chen Chieh-jen’s Empire’s Borders and the Deconstruction of the American Dream” in National Jinan University Journal of Literature, 2015.
- “Hou Hsiao-hsien” and “Jia Zhangke” in Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography, Vol. 4Berkshire Publishing/Oxford University Press, 2015.
- “Reflections on Chinese-English Literary Translation” in Chinese Literature in Dialogue, Writers Publishing, 2015.*
- “Yunan 1968: Dreams of the Zhiqing Generation in Literature and Film” Wenxue, Fudan University Press, 2015.*
- “Storm Under the Sun and the Hu Feng Incident Sixty Years Later” inChengshi wenyi, 2015.*
- “Censorship and Publishing in China”(A Chinafile Conversation), Chinafile/Asia Society, 2015.
- “Imagining the Past, Narrating History: Rereading Three Works of Chinese Historical Fiction from the 1990s” (Xiangxiang wangshi, xushu lishi: Chongdu Zhongguo jiuling niandai de sanben lishi xiaoshuo”) in Fiction, Canon and Modern Consciousness. Rye Field, 2015.*
- More than twenty Chinese-language prose essays published weekly in the column “Random Notes on Film” for The Beijing News (Xin jing bao), June 2013-February 2014. (links to articles available online at Douban)＊
- “Xi Jinping’s Culture Wars”(A Chinafile Conversation). Chinafile/Asia Society, 2014.
- “The Fifth Generation and the New Cinema of the 1980s” and “The Evolution of Chinese Queer Cinema” in Electric Shadows: A Century of Chinese Cinema. London: British Film Institute, 2014.
- “China is Near”in Film Comment. Feature article 2014.
- “Deep Focus: The Fifth Generation” Sight & Soundmagazine, 2014.
- “SARS@Hong Kong: A Brief Pathology of a Cinema of Disease” in A Journal of the Plague Year. Sternberg Press and Para Site, 2014.
- “Taiwan Cinema” in Taiwan: Taiwan: The Bradt Travel Guideby Steven Crook, 2014.
- “The Pitfalls of Chinese-English Literary Translation” Zhongguo yishubao (Chinese Art), 2014.＊
- In Memory of C.T.Hsia, Caixin’s Gaige Zhongguo, 2014.＊
- “Can China’s Leading Indie Film Director Cross Over in America?” (A ChinaFile Conversation). Chinafile/Asia Society, 2013.
- “A Shark Called Wanda—Will Hollywood Swallow the Chinese Dream Whole? (A ChinaFile Conversation). Chinafile/Asia Society, 2013.
- “Chinese Cinema with Hollywood Characteristics, or How the Karate Kid Became a Chinese Film” in Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas, edited by Carlos Rojas and Eileen Chow, Oxford University Press, 2012.
- “The Challenge of Language: My Experience in Translation” in Global Forum on Translating Chinese Literature, Writers Publishing, 2012.＊
- “The Absent American: Figuring the United States in Chinese Cinema of the Reform Era” in The Blackwell Companion to Chinese Cinema, By Yingjin Zhang. Blackwell Publishing, 2012.
- Chinese-language entries on To Live, Yellow Earth, and Xiao Wu in The Golden Horse’s 100 Greatest Chinese Language Films, Taipei 2011.*
- “Atrocity Exhibition: Why City of Life and Death’s treatment of the Nanjing Massacre ignited controversy in China” in Film CommentMay/June 2011.
- “Immigration, Nationalism, and Suicide: Pai Hsien-yung and Pai Ching-jui’s Chinese Obsessions and American Dreams” in Journal of Taiwan Literature. National Taiwan Cheng-chih University Publishing, 2009 (Reprinted in in Pai Hsien-yung’s Art and Literature (Kuashiji de liuli: Bai Xianyong de wenxue yu yishu guojiyantaohui lunwenji), INK, 2009.*
- “A Tale of Two Cities: Romance, Revenge, and Nostalgia in Two fin-de-siecle Novels by Ye Zhaoyan and Zhang Beihai” in Rethinking Chinese Popular Cultureedited by Carlos Rojas and Eileen Chow (Routledge, 2009).
- “Reflections on TranslatingTo Live” Chinese prose essay published online at Sina.com, Soven.com, etc. 2010.*
- “China: 21st Century Tiger” Sight & Sound, British Film Institute September, 2006. ” Italian version,‘Internazionale’ October, 2006.
- “Translating China, Translating Taiwan, Translating Zhang Dachun” in Taiwan Literature and Translation edited by K.C. Tu (Center for Taiwan Studies, UCSB, 2006)
- “Literary Evidence and Historical Fictions: The Nanjing Massacre in Fiction and Film” Canadian Review of East Asian StudiesEdmonton, 2006.
- “Revisiting Atrocity: The Nanjing Massacre on Film” (In Japanese) in China 21 24 (Aichi University Press, 2006).
- “Screening 228: From A City of Sadness to A March of Happiness” in Taiwan Imagined and its Realityedited by K.C. Tu (Center for Taiwan Studies, UCSB, 2005)
- Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture,edited by Ned Davis (Routledge, 2003) Contributing writer (10 entries: He Qun, Liu Xiaoqing, Pan Hong, Rupture writers, Ye Zhaoyan, Wang Xiaobo, Shi Kang, Christopher Doyle, Wu Ziniu, and Wu He)
- “Cinematic Representations of the Rape of Nanjing” in East Asia: An International Quarterly 19, no.4 Winter 2001 (Transactions Periodicals Consortium). (Journal version), reprinted in Japanese War Atrocities: The Search for Justice. Peter Li, editor. January 2003 (Transaction Publishers). (Book version).