Greatest Literature banner

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

Back to top of page