This podcast is an English retelling of the classic Chinese novel Water Margin (水浒传, aka Outlaws of the Marsh). It aims to tell the story in a way that is more accessible to audiences who are not already familiar with the novel or Chinese culture and literature in general. It differs from an audiobook in that I do not just read straight off a translation of the novel. Instead, I tell the story in a conversational style, adding in my own perspective and pausing to provide historical background and other contextual information where needed to help you better understand and appreciate the novel.
This is my second podcast. My first podcast was a similar project on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the most famous and epic of classic Chinese novels. That podcast ran from 2014 to 2018. Check it out at 3kingdomspodcast.com. You can find out more about me and my work at chineselore.com.
About the Water Margin
Water Margin, also known in the West as Outlaws of the Marsh or All Men Are Brothers, is considered one of the four great classic Chinese novels. It follows the fictional adventures of a group of 108 outlaws in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1126). These guys can best be described as 12th-century Chinese Klingons — impulsive, berserker brave, honor mad, hard-drinking, and quick to draw their swords. The novel is extremely popular in China, having been turned into TV shows, movies, comic books, and radio programs. Many of its main characters and memorable stories have become an integral part of Chinese culture, yet it is mostly unknown in the West, which is why I am trying to use this podcast to introduce non-Chinese audiences to the book.
I was born in China and spent the first 10 years of my life there before moving to the United States. As someone shaped by prolonged immersion in both Chinese and American societies, I started these podcasts on classic Chinese literature as a way to help bridge the two cultures and to make more people in the West aware of some really cool stories that are as well known to the other half of the world as the works of Shakespeare are in the West.
This podcast is something I do in my spare time. To see what I do for my day job, check out johnzhu.com.