Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 24, 2020

Virtual launch: new fiction from Hybrid Publishers: Dragon’s Gate, by Vivian Bi

Dragon’s Gate is the book that I am reading at the moment, and it turns out to be surprisingly relevant to the times we are now living in.

Readers may remember that I reviewed Bright Swallow last year, and found that nothing I’d previously read compared with the insights from this memoir from Chinese-born Vivian Bi.  She was a small child when he Cultural Revolution in China (1966-1976) began and she suffered from years of discrimination because of her father’s denunciation as a ‘Rightist’ (i.e. suspected of harbouring capitalist or traditional sympathies). Dragon’s Gate is a novel which brings to life the experience of this awful period of Chinese history, and yet her central character finds consolation in books.  I think many of us are finding that reading is consolation for us now too.

Vivian (Xiyan) Bi is a published author of several novels (including Bright Swallow, 2019), short stories, translations and textbooks. She is the Chinese Coordinator in Ascham School, Sydney, and was a lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Sydney. She has received four grants from the Australia Council for the Arts. She lives in Sydney.

I expect to finish reading Dragon’s Gate in a day or two, and will share my thoughts about it in due course, but for now, this is the blurb.

Beijing teenager, Shi Ding, is thriving during the Cultural Revolution. He has won acclaim for his storytelling and for his clever entrapment of class enemies, especially those seeking to escape punishment through suicide. Suddenly, his father kills himself. Grief-stricken and now the son of a suspicious suicide, Shi Ding finds himself ostracised. Why did his father do it? Did it have something to do with that attractive neighbour, the university professor? Before he can learn more, the woman kills herself too. Ordered to guard her home, Shi Ding becomes enthralled by her library of banned world classics. He devours their stories, obsessed with finding a way to share them with a story-starved populace. But how, when doing so is dangerous?
The title is based on a Sichuan idiom for telling a story: “scaffolding the dragon’s gate”.

Early readers had this to say:

Dragon’s Gate is a superb book, a fascinating story written from the heart and woven into a complex cultural and historical tapestry – a modern classic in the making.”  – Robert Macklin, author of Dragon and Kangaroo

The unique interweaving of fascinating tales set in exotic places with familiar and much-loved western classics makes this book a page turner from beginning to end. – Jane Sydenham-Kwiet

I’m finding it fascinating!

Author: Vivian Bi
Title: Dragon’s Gate
Publisher: Hybrid Publishers, 2020
ISBN: 9781925736328

Available from Fishpond with free delivery in Australia: Dragon’s Gate, direct from Hybrid Publishers, and good bookshops everywhere.  Remember, most bookshops are still in business and are offering various forms of home delivery.  See my post for Melbourne booksellers who need your support here.


  1. Does indeed sound fascinating, Lisa. Reading is most definitely a solace right now.


    • I just finished it this morning. I’ll be doing my best to write the review ASAP.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. […] I said the other day with my virtual launch of Dragon’s Gate this story set during the Cultural Revolution in China, turns out to be surprisingly relevant to […]


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