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The 88 Greatest Works of Chinese Literature

This selection of literature from China is based on the continuing research carried out for The Greatest Literature of All Time list and is additionally informed by the views of local readers, writers, critics and scholars.

It encompasses the greatest works of Chinese authors in all forms, genres, cultures and periods.

Note, however, expatriates whose works were created after they left China may be featured in listings for other countries or regions in which they became established.

This list focuses on major creative—mainly fictional—works, although some shorter or nonfiction writing of literary significance may also be considered.

Latest update: February 26, 2024

c.1000–0600 BCE
Classic of Poetry
Various authors,
China, poetry collection
c.500 BCE
The Art of War
Sun Tzu
China, nonfiction
c.400 BCE
Tao Te Ching
Lao Tzu
China, nonfiction
c.300 BCE
The Mencius
Mencius
China, nonfiction
 
Zhuangzi
Zhuang Zhou
China, story collection
c.200 BCE
The Analects
Confucius
China, nonfiction
c.290
Records of Diverse Matters
Zhang Hua
China, story collection
c.750
Selected Poems
Li Bai
China, poetry collection
c.800
The Collected Songs of Cold Mountaine
Hanshan
China, poetry collection
c.900
"The Butterfly Lovers"
Anonymous
China, story
c.1300
The Chalk Circle
Li Qianfu
China, play
 
Romance of the Western Chamber
Wang Shifu
China, play
c.1360–1400
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Luo Guanzhong
China, novel
c.1360–1589
Water Margin
Shi Nai'an, Luo Guanzhong
China, novel
c.1590
The Golden Lotus
Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng
China, novel
1592
Journey to the West
Wu Cheng'en
China, novel
1598
The Peony Pavilion
Tang Xianzu
China, play
1605
Investiture of the Gods
Xu Zhonglin
China, novel
1620
Stories to Enlighten the World
Feng Menglong
China, story collection
c.1640
A Supplement to the Journey to the West
Dong Yue
China, novel
c.1680
The Palace of Eternal Life
Hong Sheng
China, play
1699
The Peach Blossom Fan
Kong Shangren
China, play
1750
The Scholars
Wu Jingzi
China, novel
c.1750
Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee
Anonymous
China, story collection
c.1763
Three Hundred Tang Poems
ed. Sun Zhu
China, poetry collection
1766
Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio
Pu Songling
China, story collection
1791–1792
Dream of the Red Chamber
Cao Xueqin
China, novel
1809
Six Records of a Floating Life
Shen Fu
China, memoir
1827
Flowers in a Mirror
Li Ruzhen
China, novel
1878
An Heroic Legend of the Sons and Daughters
Wen Kang
China, novel
1879
The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants
Shi Yukun
China, novel
1890
The Five Younger Gallants
Shi Yukun
China, novel
1903–1905
Officialdom Unmasked
Li Baojia
China, novel
1905–1928
A Flower in a Sinful Sea
Jin Tianhe, Zeng Pu
China, novel
1907
The Travels of Lao Can
Liu E
China, novel
1909
Bizarre Happenings Eyewitnessed Over Two Decades
Wu Jianren
China, novel
1918
"A Madman's Diary"
China, story
c.1919
China, novella
1927
Wild Grass
China, poetry collection
1933
Family
Pa Chin
China, novel
1935
Old Tales Retold
China, story collection
1937
Rickshaw Boy
Lao She
China, novel
1943
Love in a Fallen City
Eileen Chang
China, novella
1947
Fortress Besieged
Qian Zhongshu
China, novel
1947
Cold Nights
Pa Chin
China, novel
1950
Half a Lifelong Romance
Eileen Chang
China, novel
1952
A Many-Splendoured Thing
Han Suyin
China, novel
1957
Teahouse
Lao She
China, novel
1961
Red Crag
Luo Guangbin, Yang Yiyan
China, novel
1963–1966
Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
Jin Yong
China, novel
1967
The Smiling, Proud Wanderer
Jin Yong
China, novel
1972
The Deer and the Cauldron
Jin Yong
China, novel
1978
The Orient
Wei Wei
China, novel
1979
Lust, Caution
Eileen Chang
China, novella
 
My City: A Hong Kong Story
Xi Xi
China, novel
1981
Leaden Wings
Zhang Jie
China, novel
1985
White deer Plain
Chen Zhongshi
China, novel
1985
Half of Man is Woman
Zhang Xianliang
China, novel
1986–1987
Red Sorghum
Mo Yan
China, novel
1986–1988
Ordinary World
Lu Yao
China, novel
1987
The Ancient Ship
Zhang Wei
China, novel
 
Life and Death in Shanghai
Zheng Nian
China, memoir
1990
Soul Mountain
Gao Xingjian
China, novel
 
Raise the Red Lantern
Su Tong
China, novella
1991
Wild Swans
Jung Chang
China, nonfiction novel
1993
To Live
Yu Hua
China, novel
1995
Chronicle of a Blood Merchant
Yu Hua
China, novel
 
The Song of Everlasting Sorrow
Wang Anyin
China, novel
1997
The Rape of Nanking
Iris Chang
China, nonfiction
 
Red Scarf Girl
Ji-li Jiang
China, memoir
 
Falling Leaves
Adeline Yen Mah
China, memoir
1999
Chinese Cinderella
Adeline Yen Mah
China, memoir
2004
Wolf Totem
Jiang Rong
China, novel
2004–2011
The Jiangnan Trilogy
Ge Fei
China, novel series
incl. Peach Blossom Paradise, My Dream of the Mountain and River, Spring Ends in Jiangnan
2005
The Shaanxi Opera
Jia Pingwa
China, novel
2005–2006
Brothers
Yu Hua
China, novel
2006
Dream of Ding Village
Yan Lianke
China, novel
Life and Death are Wearing Me Out
Mo Yan
China, novel
2008
Massage
Bi Feiyu
China, novel
 
The Dark Forest
Liu Cixin
China, novel
 
The Three-Body Problem
Liu Cixin
China, novel
2009
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Grace Lin
China, novel
 
The Vagrants
Li Yiyun
China, novel
 
One Sentence Is Ten Thousand Sentences
Liu Zhenyun
China, novel
 
Frog
Mo Yan
China, novel
2010
Death's End
Liu Cixin
China, novel
 
China in Ten Words
Yu Hua
China, essay collection
2015–2016
Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation
Mo Xiang Tong Xiu
China, novel

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