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. 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 Filmwhich 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 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 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 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.

Douban Website: 白睿文 在豆瓣的小站

Weibo Website: 白睿文 在微博

 Twitter: @Bairuiwen

Clubhouse: @Bairuiwen


Selected 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

The Last Aristocrats: Michael Berry in Dialogue with Kenneth Pai

Michael Berry Discusses Fascination with China’s Last Dynasty (CGTN)

Death and Survival: The Existential Dimension (HKBU COVID-19 and Beyond, Culturally Speaking)

Translation and the Virus (Duke University Lecture)

The controversy over Fang Fang’s ‘Wuhan Diary’: A conversation with the translator, Michael Berry (SupChina Podcast)

Michael Berry, NEA Translator and Author (NEA Art Works Podcast) 

New Waves: Red Sorghum (UCSB)




Book Length Translations:


Edited Books:


Selected 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.





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 Writingedited 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 & Chinaedited 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 2volume 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 inHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television  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 AcademyBy Ni Zhen in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, 
  • Book Review, Rose, Rose I Love Youby 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 Deafby 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.