Michael Berry

A photo of Michael Berry
E-mail: berry@humnet.ucla.edu Office: Royce 246-B

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.


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 Trilogywhich 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 a forthcoming volume of conversations with Jia Zhangke. Berry is currently completing a monograph that explores the United States as it has been imagined through Chinese film, literature, and popular culture, 1949-present. He is also the co-editor of Divided Lenses: Screen Memories of War in East Asia ,  Modernism Revisited: Pai Hsien-yung and the Taiwan Literary Modernism Movement and editor of a forthcoming volume on the 1930 Musha Incident in Taiwan.


Also an active literary translator, Berry has translated several important contemporary Chinese novels by Yu HuaYe Zhaoyanand 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 most recently published translation is Wu He’s (Dancing Crane) award winning novel Remains of Life (Yu sheng), a fascinating literary exploration of the 1930 Musha Incident, which was honored with a NEA Translation Grant and shortlisted for the Best Translated Books Award (BTBA). Current literary translation projects include the modern martial arts novel The Last Swallow of Autumn (Xia yin) by Wenyi Chang.


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, Fresh Wave Film Festival, Los Angeles International Culture Film Festival and the Dream of the Red Chamber Literary Award.


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.


Douban Website: 白睿文 在豆瓣的小站

Weibo Website: 白睿文 在微博


Media Appearances:

Ideas Roadshow: China, Culturally Speaking

On Point with Tom Ashbrook: China Rising in Movies and Entertainment  

Future Tense with Antony Funnell: Soft Power with Chinese characteristics

Wall Street Journal: American Shows are Hot in China

Wall Street Journal: House of Cards Breaks Barriers in China

CinemaTalk: A Conversation with Michael Berry

CRI English Radio: The Chinese Film Industry




Book Length Translations:


Edited Books:


Selected Articles, Reviews & Entries


  • “Once Upon a Time in Shanghai” in Once Upon a Time in Shanghai. (Introduction to a photo book by Mark Parascandola. Daylight Books, 2019.


  • “Liminal Cinema” in The Chinese Cinema Book (2nd edition), forthcoming, 2019.


  • “Response to ‘Taiwan Studies and the World’” in International Journal of Taiwan Studies, 2018.


  • “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.






Article Length Translations:

  • “Why I Write” by Wang Anyi, “Autobiography” and “Author’s Foreword” by Yu Hua, translated by Michael Berry in Chinese Writers on Writing edited by Arthur Sze, Trinity Press, 2010.
  • “Selected poems of Li Yingqiang” translated by Michael Berry in Literary Review Special Issue on Hong Kong Literature (edited by Shen Shuang).
  • Remains of Life (excerpt) by Wu He translated by Michael Berry in Taiwan Literature University of California, Santa Barbara Summer 2003.
  • “The Literary World of Mo Yan” by David Der-wei Wang translated by Michael Berry in World Literature Today Summer 2000.
  • “Postmodernism and Chinese Novels of the Nineties” by Zhang Yiwu, translated by Michael Berry in Postmodernism & China edited by Arif Dirlik and Xudong Zhang (Duke University Press 2000). (book version).
  • “Postmodernism and Chinese Novels of the Nineties” by Zhang Yiwu, translated by Michael Berry in Boundary 2 volume 24 number 3 fall 1997 (Duke University Press). (journal version).



  • Book Review of “Structure, Audience and Soft Power in East Asian Pop Culture.” Pacific Affairs,
  • Book Review, The Chinese Cinema Book in Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 32. Issue 1, 2012
  • Book Review, “The Hypothetical Mandarin” in Journal of Asian Studies, 2010
  • Book Review, “Postsocialist Modernity” in Cinema Journal, 2009
  • Film Review “Storm Under the Sun” in The Moving Image, 2009
  • Book Review, Memoirs from the Beijing Film Academy. By Ni Zhen in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture,
  • Book Review, Rose, Rose I Love You by Wang Chen-ho in China Review International 9 (University of Hawaii Press 2003).
  • Book Review, Red Poppies in Persimmon: Asian Literature, Arts & Culture Volume III, Number 2 Spring 2002.
  • Film Reviews “Orphan of Anyang,” “Feeling By Night,” ““Asian American International Film Festival,” etc. 2001-2002 on Offoffoff Film.
  • Book Review, Panic and Deaf by Liang Xiaosheng in Persimmon Asian Literature, Arts & Culture Volume II, Number 3 Winter 2002.
  • Book Review, A Woman Soldier’s Own Story: The Autobiography of Xie Bingying in Persimmon Asian Literature, Arts & Culture Volume III, Number 1 Spring 2002.


*Entries marked by an asterisk are Chinese-language publications.