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2023–24 Big Read Reveal!

The Purdue English Department’s 2023–24 Big Read selection is Monkey King: Journey to the West, translated by Julia Lovell. 

Shapeshifter, mischief-maker, and kung-fu master, the immortal Monkey King doles out punchlines and punches in equal measure. His life of simian shenanigans is interrupted, however, when the Buddha orders him to accompany the monk Tripitaka and a band of unlikely allies on a journey from China to India to find sacred sutras for the Tang Dynasty. Together, their trials narrate allegories of personal growth, spiritual awakening, and intercultural appreciation. In whirlwind fashion, Julia Lovell’s adaptation of Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the West presents the classic Chinese epic as a fast-paced adventure, filled with humor and heart. It is sure to captivate readers of all ages.

Wu Cheng'en (c. 1505-1580), a Ming Dynasty novelist and poet, is believed to be the author of Journey to the West, which was published anonymously in 1592.

Julia Lovell (translator) is Professor of Modern Chinese History and Literature at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Praise for Monkey King:

  • San Francisco Chronicle describes the books as "a breezy, action-packed narrative" offering readers "plenty of fun."
  • The Wall Street Journal dubs it, approvingly, "a rollicking work of high buffoonery…a fun, accessible book."
  • Fortune calls it an "accessible translation" that  allows "readers to discover [the text’s unique] mix of spiritual transcendence, slapstick humor, and deep satire."

Join us for another informative, engaging year of the Purdue English Big Read!