Asia's best literary magazines

The top litmags to read exciting new Chinese and Asian writers

Want to read exciting new Chinese writers but can’t face the hanzi? Time Out finds the best sources to discover literary works.

Asia Literary Review


As the name suggests, this stalwart of the literary scene is an independent quarterly literary magazine publishing contemporary writing from and about Asia, in English and in translation. Launched from Hong Kong in 2000, the compact mag is packed with interviews, stories and poetry from across Asia and aims to promote the best works being written across the continent.

Highlights from 2016 include an interview and short story from acclaimed Chinese-Indonesian writer Xu Xi, poetry from award winning Chinese poets Zhu Zhu and Yu Jian and an extract from the novel Let’s Give it Up For Gimme Lao! from wuxia writer Sebastian Sim.

Get it Pick up a copy for 100RMB at independent bookstores, view some articles for free at or subscribe for 30USD annually. You can also order individual editions directly from the website.


With contemporary designs and a well-linked-up online operation, this is about as street as literary translation gets. Describing itself as the premier site for world literature in translation, Asymptote’s magazine and website offer a plethora of plays, short stories and poetry in translation, plus links to read the works in their original text and a rather nifty feature to play audio recordings in the original language.

The latest edition featured a translation from the controversial Ten Years of Marriage by late Chinese playwright and author Su Qing, and a poem from author and photographer Hsia Yü’s First Person. Other feature writers translated include masters of Chinese literature such as Mo Yan, Can Xue and Ouyang Jianghe. Asymptote is a quarterly journal plus online site, blog, newsletter, podcast and event organiser, and is probably the coolest operation on our list.

Get it: Find more information at

Chinese Literature Today

The academic heavyweight of Chinese literary journals, this biannual litmag has been published in the US since 2010. The prestigious World Literature Today, founded at the University of Oklahoma in 1927, worked together with the Beijing Normal University to produce a special issue focusing on Chinese literature in 2007, which sparked the idea for a magazine focused specifically on the enormous area of new Chinese writing.

Chinese Literature Today is the result, an authoritative discussion and showcase of contemporary Chinese writing. Bear in mind that it is published with an academic viewpoint, so along with features on Chinese scholars and works in translation, the magazine looks at trends in the Chinese publishing industry, introduces emerging styles and topics, book reviews and art works. It will keep you well versed in intelligent chat all year round.

Get it: For 25USD you can buy an international subscription and have both annual editions delivered to China.



Pathlight is the definitive magazine for anyone interested in new Chinese writing. The magazine is a collaboration between People’s Literature Magazine, one of China’s oldest literary journals, and the fabulous online collective of literary translators Paper Republic. The quarterly magazine is a beautifully presented selection of works translated from Chinese to English, including poetry and short stories plus short biographical introductions to different authors. Each edition starts by adopting a theme (which in 2016 included ‘Growing Up’, ‘Recovery’ and ‘On the Road’), and then the translators choose works to turn to English.

Put together by a stellar team with experience in Chinese literature, Pathlight introduces both rising stars and new works from established writers, all of which would have been otherwise inaccessible to non-Chinese audiences. Those wishing to delve even deeper can while away hours exploring Paper Republic’s enormous online resource of Chinese writers.

Get it: Pick up past issues from Amazon China or download issues from – though it’s worth getting your hands on physical copies, as they are collectors’ items you’ll want to refer back to.



An exciting new addition to the literary scene, Spittoon magazine launched in Beijing in November 2016, a printed accompaniment to the meetings held by an assortment of the city’s poets and writers over recent years. The launch edition features work from both Chinese and expat writers, predominantly in English with a few accompanied by Chinese translators. Highlights in the inaugural issue include ‘Cockle-Pickers’, a poem by writer Heys Wolfenden about the 21 Chinese migrant labourers who drowned in Morecombe Bay in the UK in 2004, and a bilingual poem ‘Babel’s Shadow’ from Chinese poet and novelist Xu Yue.

Get it: A snip at 30RMB, you can pick up the magazine or order it directly from The Bookworm in Beijing. Find out more through their WeChat (ID:Spittoon).