Discussion Group: In Conversation with Jeremy Tiang and Zhang Yueran on Cocoon

Cocoon is the story of two friends, Cheng Gong and Li Jiaqi. Both hailing from dysfunctional families, they go way back. They grew up together in a Chinese provincial capital in the 1980s. Now, many years later, the childhood friends reunite and discover how much they still have in common. Both have always been determined to follow the tracks of their grandparents’ generation to the heart of a mystery that perhaps should have stayed buried. What exactly happened during that rainy night in 1967, in the abandoned water tower?

Described by Ian McEwan as ‘a stupendous novel’, Cocoon reveals much about the unshakable power of friendship and the existence of hope. Yueran is a fresh voice representing a new generation of important young writers from China, shedding a different light on the country’s recent past. She discussed her recent novel with Jeremy Tiang, whose English translation was published in 2022 by World Editions.

This event required registration. Please fill out the form here by 8am on 20 Feb to receive a Microsoft Teams link, which will be sent the morning of the event.


Zhang Yueran is one of China’s most influential young writers. Her novel Cocoon sold more than 150,000 copies in China and has been translated into several languages. In France it was nominated for the Best Foreign Book Prize 2019 and won the Best Asian Novel of the Prix Transfuge 2019. Zhang has been chief editor of Newwriting since 2008 and teaches literature and creative writing at Renmin University in China. She was chosen by Asymptote as one of 20 Sinophone writers under 40 to look out for.

Jeremy Tiang has translated over twenty books from Chinese, including novels by Shuang Xuetao, Lo Yi-Chin, Yan Ge, Yeng Pway Ngon, Chan Ho-Kei, and Geling Yan. His novel State of Emergency won the Singapore Literature Prize in 2018. He also writes and translates plays. Originally from Singapore, he now lives in New York City.