Shanghai's best literary groups

It's gonna be lit

Literary Shanghai

A relatively new group on the city’s literary scene, Literary Shanghai is a friendly and active community that brings together all kinds of writers, translators and readers. Organising events, workshops and outings, it meets at least monthly in a variety of places around the city, led by several very experienced China hands. Since its launch, the community has hosted international and Chinese authors, film screenings, poetry events and other cultural gatherings.

In July, it launched a new writing group, and also publishes its own literary journal, Alluvium, which welcomes submissions of both poetry and fiction from aspiring writers. The group seeks to bring wordsmiths from all backgrounds and languages together into an active community, to accurately represent the artistic variety in this great city.

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Royal Asiatic Society

The well-established Royal Asiatic Society has a series of literary events, including a dedicated book club. Along with author talks and debates, the group discusses classic Chinese works, such as Frog by Mo Yan, or more recent pan-Asia books, such as Where China Meets India: Burma at the Crossroads of Asia by Thant Mint-U.

The RAS also hosts lectures, film screenings, art trips and discussions, with a particular eye on the history of China and the broader Asia region, making this a good place to start for those interested in boosting their cultural and historical credentials.

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The Shanghai Literary Review

The organisers of this brand-new literary journal are an international bunch based between Shanghai and New York. The gorgeous new magazine is a must; the beautifully printed inaugural edition features poetry, art, nonfiction and fiction, book reviews and work in translation from a host of international contributors.

As well as always being open to submissions, the team of enthusiastic editors also regularly organise open mic reading nights. Seeking to capture the spirit of transnationalism and cosmopolitanism that Shanghai creates, the team plan to publish twice a year, but looks set to keep boosting the city’s literary output far more regularly.

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Literary M on the Bund

The classy M on the Bund restaurant has a long literary history in Shanghai, hosting its first Literary Festival 15 years ago. Now the event has grown into a fortnight-long extravaganza, complemented by a series of literary talks, book launches and workshops throughout the year.

This year’s festival hosted the likes of Amy Tan, Rob Schmitz and Claire Keegan, and other events throughout 2017 have included a discussion of legendary writer J.G. Ballard’s relationship with Shanghai, a celebration of Australian literature, and a book launch for Alec Ash’s Wish Lanterns.

Plus, literary events at M are also a great opportunity to sample the restaurant and bar with its gorgeous Bund-side views, great food and excellent drinks.

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This literary collective is currently based in Beijing and Chengdu, but they have exciting plans to host events in Shanghai and Suzhou, so definitely ones to watch out for.

In Beijing, the collective hosts open mic nights, workshops, and recently launched a new magazine, also called Spittoon. Plus, this sociable and supportive group of wordsmiths know how to throw a mean party.

Spittoon started in 2015 as a poetry night and has since morphed into a series of exciting sub-groups, including Spittoon Fiction, Spittoon Poetry, Spittoon Slam, Spit-Tunes, workshops and even an upcoming writing retreat. They are keen to talk to any writers, readers, editors or anyone else who’d like to be involved across their various projects in any city.

Find out more by contacting or adding fintan14 on WeChat.

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