Ilaria Maria Sala was born in Italy and grew up in Bologna and Florence. She has studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies, Beijing Normal University, and Beijing University. After a few years in Japan she is now based in Hong Kong, where she writes about China and Asia. Sala is the author of Il Dio dell’Asia: Religione e Politica in Oriente: Un Reportage (Italian; Il Saggiatore, 2006) (winner of the Bruce Chatwin Award for Travel Literature), a book of travel features about religion; and a volume of essays, Lettere dalla Cina (Italian; Una Città, 2011). She writes for the Italian daily La Stampa (for which she won the Igor Man award for journalism in 2011) and contributes to The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. She is passionate about a lot of topics, but particularly enthusiastic about ceramics, tea, and the Qianlong Emperor.

Ilaria Maria Sala was born in Italy and grew up in Bologna and Florence. She has studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Beijing Normal University, and Beijing University. After some years in Japan, she now calls Hong Kong home. Sala is the author of Il Dio dell’Asia: Religione e Politica in Oriente (Italian; Il Saggiatore, 2006) (winner of the Bruce Chatwin Award for Travel Literature); and a volume of essays, Lettere dalla Cina (Italian; Una Città, 2011). Her ChinaFile piece “Beijing Autumn” obtained a Human Rights Press Award in 2016. She is a contributing writer for Quartz, and various other publications.  She is passionate about a lot of topics, but particularly enthusiastic about ceramics, tea, and the Qianlong Emperor.

Last Updated: September 7, 2016

Conversation

09.13.16

Can China’s Best Newspaper Survive?

Isaac Stone Fish, David Schlesinger & more
On September 9, the South China Morning Post’s Chinese-language website went dark with little explanation, leading to concerns that censorship might next spread to the newspaper’s English-language coverage. Can Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, who has...

Conversation

09.07.16

The Hong Kong Election: What Message Does it Send Beijing?

David Schlesinger, Melissa Chan & more
On September 4, Hong Kong elected a batch of its youngest and most pro-democratic lawmakers yet. Six new legislators, all under 40, won on platforms that called for Hong Kongers to decide their own fate. The youngest is 23-year-old Nathan Law, a...

Postcard

06.03.15

Beijing Autumn

Ilaria Maria Sala
Then even August ended. China was disappearing from the news, as portentous events elsewhere thrust themselves to the forefront.South Africa had started to come out of the dark age of apartheid. Eastern Europe had begun the march to unshackle itself...

Viewpoint

10.21.14

‘We Can Only Trust Each Other and Keep the Road’

Ilaria Maria Sala
Snip. Snip. Snip. The officer’s face shows concentration as he cuts one yellow ribbon after another along a metal fence on Queensway in the Central district of Hong Kong. Next to him, other policemen have just finished dismantling the barricades...

Viewpoint

10.08.14

‘We Do Not Want to Be Persuaded’

Ilaria Maria Sala
Over the past week, it has been hard to make sense of the threats and ultimatums the Hong Kong protesters have faced. On Sunday, the South China Morning Post splashed on its front page that Hong Kong had “hours to avoid tragedy.” University deans...

Viewpoint

10.01.14

‘The City Feels New’

Ilaria Maria Sala
Down on the streets occupied by the striking students, the city feels new: roads normally accessible only on wheels look like familiar strangers when suddenly you can walk down them. Big, immovable concrete partitions still separate the lanes, and...

Culture

01.16.13

Hong Kong’s Bard of the Everyday

Ilaria Maria Sala
 I have your words, that you put down on paperbut nothing at hand to return, so I write downpapaya. I cut one open: so many dark points, so many undefined things On Sunday, January 6, when Leung Ping-kwan, author of these lines,...

Postcard

10.30.12

Wenzhou’s Italian Uncles

Ilaria Maria Sala
0039 Ristorante Italia sits in the middle of West Jiangbin Street, one of many long and large stretches of concrete that cross Wenzhou east to west, parallel to the Oujiang River, running next to some of the city’s visible wealth—in the form of...

Culture

07.02.12

Novelist Chan Koonchung on China’s ‘Lack of Trust’

Ilaria Maria Sala
“I started to think about this book in 2008, the year of the Beijing Olympics,” says Chan Koonchung of his dystopian novel Shengshi: Zhongguo 2013 (The Fat Years). “2008 was the beginning of a new chapter for China, which is when I realized I had a...

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