Following Monday’s launch, debut author Jemimah Steinfeld returned to Asia House to join Xiaolu Guo in conversation about love, sex and youth in modern China.
Guo opened the discussion with a much-recited quote from Mao Zedong, which was immediately followed by a reading from Steinfeld’s book about Viktor, a Chinese sex-toy entrepreneur determined to sow the seeds of a sexual revolution.
Their respective readings perfectly captured the tone for the discussion – on every subject, both writers’ contrasting experiences came together to give a well-balanced sense of the contradictions facing China’s youth and how these manifest in their attitudes towards dating, sex and politics. While Guo’s questions sprang from her personal experiences – both of life as a young woman in China during the 1980s and her career as a writer and filmmaker after her departure at the age of twenty – Steinfeld’s answers were that of an outsider gaining a rare and candid insight into the new generation of Chinese youth culture. The result was an absorbing and spirited conversation and a glimpse into the once-in-a-generation sexual and cultural revolution taking place amongst China’s youth.
Jemimah Steinfeld is a journalist who has worked and lived in China. She holds an MA in Chinese Studies from SOAS, University of London, and has worked for the Global Times in Beijing, and written freelance articles for CNN, Time Out and the Huffington Post on issues relating to China, feminism and dating. She currently works at London’s Asia House in charge of their literature programme and is Contributing Editor (China) for Index on Censorship magazine. Little Emperors and Material Girls: Sex and Youth in Modern China is available now.