With more and more Western publishers (and writers) looking forward to doing business in China and Taiwan, a special Chinese-language term, “sa ching,” might be useful for folks in New York and London to know. Of course, in the West, we speak of a “wrap party” for movies when they wrap up principal shooting. When writers finish a novel or a book series, there are also book parties, sometimes to celebrate the completion of a major work or the ”launch” of a new book.
A “sa ching” is a kind of launch party or publisher’s party for a book in Beijing or Taipei.
In Taiwan and China, a launch party or a Hollywood wrap party is called “sa ching” in the Chinese language, with two characters taking the bows. “Sa” means ”to end or complete something,” and ”ching” means “green.” How this connects with a launch party or a wrap party is a long story, but to make a long story short, here’s the gist of it:
A Taiwanese film director who lived in Manhattan for ten years in the 1980s, and who has attended his share of “sa ching” parties in Taiwan over the years for his own films and books, told me that the term “sa ching” comes from an ancient production technique of slowly warming green bamboo in order to turn it into material suitable for a book (see illustration above).
He also told me that “sa ching” could be spelled in English either as “sa ching” or “sha qing,” with the same pronunication, of course.
So there you have it: A book party in some parts of Asia is called a “sa ching”—and it is often also called a “sa ching jyo” with the “jyo” standing for “liquor” and thus you get the picture of a lot of happy toasts with champagne and other things “flowing like good wine.”
So if you’re ever headed to Taipei or Beijing for a book event or a meeting with a publisher, it’s good to know this term in Chinese: “sa ching,” sha qing,” or maybe even the very liquidy “sa ching jyo.”
Cheers! Bottoms up! Congratuatlions! Mazel tov! Ganbei! Gongshi-gongshi!
Dan Bloom is a freelance writer based in Taiwan.