Sidney Shapiro

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Sidney Shapiro (Chinese: 沙博理; pinyin: Shā Bólǐ) (December 23, 1915 – October 18, 2014) was an American-born Chinese author and translator who has lived in China from 1947 to 2014. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he was of Jewish ethnicity. He lived in Beijing for over a half century and was a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Council. He was one of very few naturalized citizens of the PRC.


Shapiro held citizenship of the People's Republic of China from 1963, before the Cultural Revolution, to the end of his life. He was a member of the People's Political Consultative Conference, a governmental assembly of the PRC which ostensibly provides a forum for input from non-Communist political organizations.

Personal history[edit]

Shapiro's connections with China began during World War II, when he was serving in the United States armed forces. He was chosen to learn Chinese by the United States Army in preparation for a possible American landing in Japanese-occupied China. After attaining a law degree in the US, he went to China, arriving in Shanghai in 1947. There, he met his future wife, an actress named Fengzi (Phoenix), who was a supporter of the Communist Party of China prior to its ascent to power. Beginning in the Cultural Revolution, she spent 10 years under house arrest for her opposition to Mao's wife, Jiang Qing.[1] She later became one of the most prominent drama critics in the People's Republic.[citation needed]

For nearly 50 years, he was employed by the state-run Foreign Languages Press (FLP) as a translator of works of Chinese literature. He is most well known for his highly regarded English version of Outlaws of the Marsh, one of the most important classics of Chinese literature. FLP recently reissued Shapiro's translation as part of a bilingual collection called Library of Chinese Classics.

Shapiro died in Beijing on October 18, 2014, at the age of 98.[2]


  • Jews in Old China - Studies by Chinese Scholars, a comprehensive collection of translations of papers by Chinese scholars about the ancient Kaifeng Jews and other Jewish papers by various Chinese scholars, and papers on Jewish-Chinese interaction
  • 1997: My China: The Metamorphosis of a Country and a Man, previously available mainly in China, has been reissued as "I Chose China" (Hippocrene Books)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Expatriates' Long March Through China's History - Los Angeles Times". 1999-03-30. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  2. ^ "American-born Chinese author and translator Sha Boli dead at 98". October 20, 2014.