Winter Pasture

Winter Pasture

One Woman’s Journey with China’s Kazakh Herders
Li Juan
Memoir / Travel
ON SALE February 23, 2021
$28.00 / $37.00 CAN | 320pp | 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781662600333

Winner of the People’s Literature Award, Winter Pasture is an international bestseller that shatters the boundaries between nature writing and personal memoir.

Li Juan and her mother own a small convenience store in the Altai Mountains in Northwestern China. To her neighbors’ surprise, Li decides to join a family of Kazakh herders as they take their 30 boisterous camels, 500 sheep and over 100 cattle and horses to pasture for the winter. The so-called winter pasture occurs in a remote region that stretches from the Ulungur River to the Heavenly Mountains. As she journeys across the vast, seemingly endless sand dunes, she helps herd sheep, chases after camels, builds an underground home using manure, gathers snow for water, all the while chronicling conversations, events, and the ever-changing landscape. With a keen eye for the understated elegance of the natural world, and a healthy dose of self- deprecating humor, Li vividly captures both the extraordinary hardships and the day-to-day preoccupations of these nomadic men and women, who struggle each year to get by in this desolate landscape. Her companions include Cuma, the often drunk but mostly responsible father; his teenage daughter, Kama, who feels the burden of the world on her shoulders and dreams of going to college; and his reticent wife, a paragon of decorum against all odds. In bringing this faraway world to English language readers here for the first time, Li creates an intimate bond with the rugged people and remote places where they spend the winter. In the signature style that made her an international sensation, Li Juan transcends the travel memoir genre to deliver an indelible reading experience on every page.

Li Juan

LI JUAN was born in Xinjiang in 1979 and grew up in Sichuan province. Her writing career began in 1999 as a newspaper columnist for newspapers like Southern Weekly and Hong Kong’s Wenweipo and she is now widely regarded… read more >>


JACK HARGREAVES is a Chinese–English translator from East Yorkshire, now based in London. Specializing in literary and academic translation, his work has appeared in Asymptote JournalPaper Republic, and Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel and includes writing by Zhu Yiye, Isaac Hsu, Yuan Ling, and Ye Duoduo. He translated Shen Dacheng’s short story “The Novelist in the Attic” for Comma Press’s The Book of Shanghai. Forthcoming translations include Yang Dian’s flash fiction collection A Contrarian’s TalesA History of Chinese Philosophical Thought by Zhang Xianghao, and Buddhism and Buddhology by Hong Xiuping. Jack recently joined the Paper Republic team.

YAN YAN graduated from Columbia University in 2008 with degrees in English and religious studies. After working at the Alibaba Group in Hangzhou, China, his hometown, he backpacked around the world and eventually settled down in Brooklyn, then the Hudson Valley. As a freelance translator, he translated works by Hans Christian Andersen Award–winner Cao Wenxuan, including the Dingding and Dangdang series, XiMi, and Mountain Goats Don’t Eat Heaven’s Grass, as well as updated editions of Grass House and Bronze Sunflower, for China Children’s Press & Publication GroupMore recently, he has been translating works by the Chinese literary icon Wang Xiaobo, which include a novella collection titled Golden Age and an essay collection titled The Pleasure of Thinking.


“Deeply moving. . . . full of humor, introspection, and glimpses into a vanishing lifestyle.”
—Sebastian Modak, The New York Times Book Review

“Chinese journalist Juan makes her stateside debut with a magnificent tale about traveling through the freezing tundra of northern China… A seamless blend of memoir, travelogue, and nature writing, Juan’s skillful prose paints an extraordinarily vivid picture of a remote world…This mesmerizing memoir impresses on every page.”
– Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A warm portrait of stark, strenuous lives in remote China…A rare look at a disappearing world.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“Near the end of Winter Pasture Li Juan asks herself what it means to be ‘a passerby’ in the lives of others. Her intimate depiction of a family of Kazakh herders is itself an answer to that complicated travel writer question: to connect the reader with people and stories she likely otherwise would never encounter. In doing so, Li Juan is an empathetic, interrogative, and entertaining chronicler.”
—Rachel Friedman, author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost

“More than just an exotic travel diary, Winter Pasture reflects on the relationships not just between humans and nature in the harshest of environments, but also between the Han Chinese and China’s Kazakh minority.”
—Nicky Harman, LitHub, “10 Chinese Women Whose Writing Should Be Translated”

“Then there is Li Juan, who may be as far outside of the system as Chinese writers are able to get and still publish. . . . Whatever quality this is [of hers]—strength of character, disregard for the opinions of others—it is the closest thing China’s literary scene has got these days to the spirit of dissent.”
—Eric Abrahamsen, The New York Times