Is Chutzpah Dead?


When Jewish diners complete their annual tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas, their fortunate cookies exhort them to learn Chinese.

The Chinese, it seems, have also been learning Yiddish.

We already know that Chinese have been harboring a fascination with so-called Jewish success, but we haven’t yet heard about chutzpah, that famous Jewish trait, making as great an impression.

Turns out, though, it has—in the form of a Chinese literary magazine named Chutzpah!. Founded in 1982, the magazine known as “Tiannan” in Chinese took Chutzpah! as its “English” name.  According to the magazine’s website, the editors undertsood the Yiddish word to mean not just audacity but also “innovation” and “experimentation.” Chutzpah! has been responsible for translating Western authors into Chinese, and for showcasing new Chinese authors, particularly ethnic minorities. The current—and last—issue focuses on work from the post-Cold War generation. English editor Austin Woerner believes that Chutzpah! has helped launch the careers of many a young Chinese writer.

Sadly, Chutzpah! is closing its doors this month, for financial reasons. Hopefully the editors have an equally chutzpadik project in the works.

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