As told by

Ok I had a mouthful of broken end of the bag Safeway house brand corn chips when I started reading this so I nearly choked myself laughing while keeping my mouth closed. Nobody likes soggy half-chewed generic corn chip bits sprayed all over her desk.

The Life of Virginia Woolf, Beloved Chinese Novelist, As Told By David Gilmour

Virginia Woolf was a famous Chinese novelist. She was born in China, as is so popular among the Chinese, where she was born. She came in third during the Boxer Uprising, after which she wrote The Good Earth, which was about China, while being a woman novelist.

It was “She came in third during the Boxer Uprising” that did me in.

Virginia Woolf was a Chinese novelist but she was not a wolf; nor was she from Virginia. This is a common mistake. She was eaten by wolves in 1942, shortly after finishing The Joy Luck Club, which she also wrote. Those wolves were not from Virginia either. There’s a Chinese guy — I think he’s Chinese — whose office is right down the hall from mine. I don’t know his name. I think maybe it’s Stan. I’m pretty sure he’s Chinese, but I don’t know if he’s ever written a book. I think you’re only allowed to write one novel per family over there. China: a land of contrasts and Virginia Woolf.

Have you ever been to China? They just love Virginia Woolf over there. Can’t get enough of Virginia Woolf. They even made a movie about it. Everybody Loves Virginia Woolf. Liz Taylor was in it. I don’t teach about it, though. I was never a big Liz Taylor fan, and you know what they say: Only teach what you love, even if it’s not Chinese. Some people, they only teach women Chinese novelists, but not me. I’m not afraid to go up against Big Chinese Women Novelists. They don’t scare me. I’m not afraid of Virginia Woolf. You ever been to China? You’re kinda quiet. You Chinese? It’s not offensive, it’s just a question. Have you ever written a novel?

There’s more. You have to read it there. It would be mean to put it all here. Read it there. You Chinese? It’s not offensive, it’s just a question.

H/t Al Dente.

Update: Forgot to say author. Mallory Ortberg.



  1. says

    “what I want for Christmas is a Virginia Woolf anthology with a compass in the binding and this thing which tells time.” — Sweet reference, lol

  2. Martha says

    But how could you leave out:

    Virginia Woolf was a hundred feet tall and menstruated knives, which was fairly unusual for Chinese women of her day.

    Oh, I see. You were just trying to save my computer screen. Thanks!

  3. Omar Puhleez says

    I have it on good authority that David Gilmour has a major new book about to hit the stores entitled ‘How to Make a Total Fool of Yourself While Trying Hard to Achieve the Opposite.’

    Its publishers, when pressed (no pun intended) say they have no idea at all how it will sell. “It’s a Chinese puzzle”, they say.

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