Fangirling Chinese Novels

Life: A Black and White Film (一生一世,黑白影画) — Epilogue *NOVEL COMPLETED*


As promised, I set up a post in which you can write some words to the author of this story, Mo Bao Fei Bao. They will be gathered and made into a gift for her. If you are interested, click here.

With this post, this novel translation has officially come to an end. Woohoo! Last post contains the epilogue and a few customary closing thoughts from me, including a few of my own personal thoughts on the story and the character of Cheng Muyun. Thanks for all those who joined in on the ride or will be joining in. 🙂

This epilogue brings in a couple of well-loved characters from one of the author’s other books (unfortunately, I have not gotten to translating that book yet). The fight against darkness is still long from ending, so there is no need to try to make everything so clear and defined. While you can, enjoy life and what you have, and be drunken until your head is graced by white.

Epilogue — Drunken Until One’s Head is Graced by White

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or reposting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.


Moscow, in a certain speakeasy bar.

Wen Han sat with her head lowered, staring at her own toes.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

Beside her was a suitcase that was neither too big, nor too small. The scuffs and scratches on its outside seemed to be reminding all the onlookers who passed by that it had been through many things.

A young Moscow man sauntered over and, without so much as a greeting or notice, took a seat. He wanted to take from Wen Han’s hand the small die she was holding, but Wen Han lifted her eyelids and gave him a strange look.

“You know, there is a unique draw to you, darling.” With an expression that was really inviting a beating, the man said this cheapest of cheap pick-up lines and, furthermore, thought it was very charming. “You enthrall my mind and soul.”<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

Something in her mind seemed to overlap with the present.

Wen Han remembered their first meeting. She had once felt humiliated because of such words, and, as she restrained herself, fear like a spider’s web had seeped out from her nerves and into the depths of her insides…

When that young Moscow man reached out his hand, about to touch her bare knee, someone grabbed his hand and held it down. It was a woman she had never seen before, a very beautiful woman, especially her lips. A smile curved her upper lip and also the corners of her lips upwards. But what came out the instant she opened her mouth was a very poorly pronounced “Bastard.”

The young man was taken aback. “Enchanting miss, what was it you just said?”

“Scoundrel.” Still extremely poorly pronounced.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Every sentence that followed after was a swear or an insult.

Yet, the person uttering all these was so open and unperturbed.

“Where the heck did this rude, ill bred woman come from?”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

The man leapt up and threw out his arm, about to shove her, but extending out her palm, the woman blocked his action and seized his hand in her grip.

A piercing wail rang out. Amid the astonished stares that turned in their direction from the several people at the adjacent table, a man garbed in a white button-up shirt and black pants stepped over, obstructing the gazes of everyone. “Bei Bei.”

He gave a wave of his hand. Someone beside him dragged away that Moscow man.

Frowning, the girl looked at that man in the white shirt and black pants. “Cheng Muyang, did you teach me some weird things to say?”

Cheng Muyang snapped his fingers, calling for some alcohol. “Did I? What I taught you were all very cultured things to say.”

Nan Bei still felt that something was odd. But oh well; she just let it be.

She was never going to be able to learn Russian in this lifetime anyway.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

Two minutes later, Wen Han was clear on the situation. This man was that younger cousin-brother whom Cheng Muyun had once mentioned, the one who liked to drink strong liquor.

“Hello. I am Cheng Muyang.” The man pulled out a silver flask from his pocket and twisted it open. “I want to take advantage of these next ten minutes to let us get to know one another. Of course, if you want to understand my older cousin-brother’s past, I am also very happy to offer my assistance. After all, I believe he will never tell it to you himself.”

Ten minutes. The first half of his life.<>Please support this translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

This would certainly be a very interesting narration process.

These were Wen Han’s thoughts.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

The first time they met had been at dusk on a certain day.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

A fifteen-year-old Cheng Muyun had sat at the southeast corner of Moscow’s Red Square, pulling in inhale after inhale from a cigarette. An adolescent’s face, a slender neck, black eyes.

There had been few passersby in this oldest city square of Moscow.

The entire time, he had been silent, until someone pushed a little boy with an extremely pale face up to him.

Shifting his gaze to the side, the adolescent stuffed the remaining half of that wet and cold cigarette between the shivering lips of that boy. “Welcome to Moscow, my dear… younger cousin-brother.”

In the beginning, this was the impression Cheng Muyun had given him—one who carried a deep aura of viciousness and cruelness.

That had only been a temporary stopover for him. He remembered, in that large family, there had been a younger little girl, Cheng Jiayi, who was very cute and whose temperament was most compatible with Cheng Muyang’s, but they had not had much interaction. When he left Moscow and returned to China, he still remembered that older cousin-brother of his whose entire being exuded an air of ruthlessness.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

He did not like Moscow’s overly cold weather.

Nor had he ever thought about going back.<>Please support this translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

But his unexpected experience at age fourteen of being abducted caused him to change his mind. When Cheng Muyang arrived in Moscow for the second time, Cheng Muyun was already in prison serving his sentence. This had been a great surprise to him. Purportedly, that older cousin-brother of his had actually been the one to report himself and had willingly gone to prison.

As a result, their second meeting had been in the small prison visitation room.

From the wrist of that former adolescent hung a strand of phoenix eye Bodhi seed prayer beads, simple and without any extra, unnecessary items on that circle of Bodhi seeds. His head shaved, he had taken measure of Cheng Muyang with narrowed eyes. “Welcome back to Moscow.”

Phoenix eye Bodhi seed mala beads (i.e. prayer beads). (Image credit)

At the time, he had merely been fifteen years old, and facing the twenty-year-old Cheng Muyun, he had still only been a half-grown child. In what could be considered a calm manner, Cheng Muyang had asked him when he planned on finishing his atonement for his crimes and leaving prison. Cheng Muyun had seemed very disinterested in this question from him. “Ten years? About that.”

“Do you need me to send anything to you here?”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“Women?” Cheng Muyun had joked. “No. Do you have any alcohol?”

Cheng Muyang pulled out a small, rectangular flask from on himself and pushed it across the table to him. Once Cheng Muyun left this room, he would not be able to drink. Here, though, enjoy as you please.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

After only a few years, Cheng Muyun did a great deed while in prison and was released early.

At the time, he had done according to the instructions of the elders of their family, preparing a welcome celebration for Cheng Muyun, burning away all clothing and items from the past, and setting out a pan of fire in front of the door of the old family mansion for him to step over[1]. Cheng Muyun had not stepped over it, striding around it instead. No one had expected that, after being in prison for so long, in the end, Cheng Muyun still had not broken away from the trafficking business and, in fact, was even one step deeper in it, becoming engaged in marriage to one of the core persons in the largest trafficking organization that operated along the borders. That trafficking organization had no bottom limit to what it would do and would touch anything, regardless of how dirty it was. The elders of their family had been extremely displeased with this and had cut off ties with Cheng Muyun.

Approximately another two or three years later, Cheng Muyun joined forces with the brother of his fiancée and, in a single blow, had destroyed the core of that trafficking organization. The complete reversal of his role and identity had shocked everyone. Cheng Muyun, as the person that he was, always seemed to have this ability. However, after accomplishing this great meritorious deed and shedding his undercover identity, on his return journey to Moscow, he had suffered an even greater turn of events.

That night was most the unforgettable of nights to Cheng Muyang.

If he had arrived only a little later, his older cousin-brother possibly would have been dead. If he had arrived slightly earlier, he possibly would have accompanied Cheng Muyun into the netherworld together.

In short, perhaps because in the first half of his own life, he had practiced abstinence from meat[2], while Cheng Muyun, in the latter half of his life, had turned his heart to Buddhism, that night, he had been fortunate enough to pull Cheng Muyun back out from the gates of hell. A blood-covered Cheng Muyun had, in front of all those mangled corpses, bent his knees and wordlessly knelt. One by one, he had pressed his face against each of those former brothers of the underground operations team who had died in order to protect him…<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.


Something stirred within Nan Bei as she listened to all of this. Softly, she commented, “This is the first time I’ve heard you praise a person.”

“Am I praising him?” Stroking Nan Bei’s petite earlobe, Cheng Muyang replied in a low voice, “I am actually denouncing him. Had he not been like one of those shopowners who throw all the work onto others to do and walked away to be a world-renunciant for ten years, I would not have ended up parting from you in Belgium and, because of all the matters I had to attend to, being unable to immediately find you.”

Nan Bei gave a light laugh.<>Please support the original translation of this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

There was an envious admiration in Wen Han as she looked at Nan Bei. It was as if, from the very beginning, this woman was of the same world as them[3]. Her smile was gentle, yet also unbridled.

“Your older brother still isn’t here.” Nan Bei lifted her wrist to look at her watch.

When she spoke this, the person who had been the subject of their discussion had already arrived.

The man in that story followed the steps down, avoiding the various drunken men and women. As his feet stepped onto the brick floor, the attentions of the nearby people were drawn to him, and they turned to cast a couple of glances on him.

Relaxedly moving his shoulders about, Cheng Muyun strode toward that table in the corner.

Everything had come to an end.<>This UNAUTHORIZED copy was taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

Half an hour ago, he had watched with his own eyes as Fu Yiming closed the case files of those who had been sentenced to the death penalty.

In this round of the battle against the trafficking organization, the Moscow operations team had come out victorious, although it was only an interim victory and darkness still existed. However, this at least gave Cheng Muyun a chance to catch his breath and bring Wen Han back to see her adoptive parents. Even though, in order to ensure the safety of the two elders, they had not actually truly appeared in person to them and had only gazed upon them from a distance, this nonetheless could be considered to have fulfilled the wish that had been in Wen Han’s heart these last few years.

Wen Han caught a whiff of a familiar scent—an incense. This incense was the one that she had been frequently using of late, and its scent, intermingled with the unique smell of leather, now brushed across her cheek. “My beloved girl, would you be willing to take me to a little inn tonight and cavort the night away with me?” He was flirting with her in the most seductive Russian, and the breath that came from his mouth and nose caressed her cheek.

Blushing, Wen Han threw a glimpse at Nan Bei, who did not understand Russian, as well as his younger cousin-brother, who was pretending he had not heard. In Russian, she quietly asked, “You saw them?” Those brothers and comrades of his former days.

“No.” Cheng Muyun’s hand slid down from her narrow shoulder, following the curve of her arm, and took her wrist. “Their world does not need me.”

From his pocket, Cheng Muyun pulled out a car key, tossing it to Cheng Muyang. The key landed in the palm of Cheng Muyang, who, with a hook of his finger, spun it one full circle, then slapped it onto the glass table. Cheng Muyang watched as that man led his young wife away and left, like any other foreign traveller dragging a beat-up suitcase behind him, turning around and departing without even a backward glance.

He had not even given a farewell.<>This UNAUTHORIZED copy was taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

“What was your older cousin-brother saying to his wife just now?” Nan Bei asked quietly.

Cheng Muyang gave a little rub across the back of Nan Bei’s hand, his smile very calm. “I will tell you when we get back.”

Nan Bei was suspicious. Fixing her eyes intently on Cheng Muyang for several seconds, she suddenly pinched his chin between her fingers. “Little scoundrel.”

He laughed. “Oh? You have suddenly learned Russian without anyone teaching you?”

Wrinkling the end of her nose, Nan Bei tossed him a glower.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

When Wen Han, her hand in Cheng Muyun’s, walked back up from that underground bar, it was snowing outside. Along with the night wind, the icy touch of Moscow struck her nose, cheeks, and lips. Tomorrow, they would be leaving Moscow, as if they had never returned here.

This was her hometown.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

“Wen Han,” he called her.<>Please support this story’s translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

A searing hot palm covered her cheek. As a taxicab sped by, he brought his face down and placed a kiss on her upper lip. “When you were a young girl, did you ever pass by bars like this one? And when you walked past, were you scared of those drunks?’

Now that he asked, there really had been a time.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

She recalled, “There was one time, when I was in high school. A drunk came and blocked my way at the end of the road.” She had struggled and then, leaving behind her most expensive down coat at the time, she had tremblingly run back home. Afraid that her adoptive parents would worry, she had not told them the truth and simply said that she had lost the coat at school…

“I am very fortunate that that didn’t leave any psychological scars behind on you.” There was a moist touch on her lips as Cheng Muyun blocked all the reality in front of her from her view. “I would not want to have missed the chance with you in Nepal because you were afraid.”

Wen Han paused in surprise. Leaning herself against him, she asked, “You honestly don’t smoke or drink?”

Beside her ear was the whistling night wind, which blew against Wen Han until her ears felt raw.

“It is the absolute truth.” He was very composed.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Recalling the scene that his younger cousin-brother had just described, a flicker of skepticism glinted in Wen Han’s eyes.

He gave a low chuckle. “It would seem you heard something that you should not have heard.”

“Mm-hmm.” She also laughed.<>Please support this translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

He drank and, in fact, liked drinking hard liquor.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

But it did not matter. No matter how many facades he put up, what she had was time to remove all of them.

It was like a dream. As a teenager, whenever she passed by such places and encountered any ruffians or drunks, she would be so frightened she would run away. Yet, in Nepal, she had encountered him, the ruffian that he was. If she had not taken that trip, would she now, whenever she passed by places of this type, still be afraid, still be avoiding them and detouring around them?

She was very glad that life did not have alternate possibilities.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

He had walked up from the pit of hell, crossing mountains of daggers and seas of flame before he could stand in that place—and encounter her.

How could the world’s ways ever conform to being if not black, then white; and when have they complied with being if not this, then that?

Since who owes whom can never be clear, since a strong drink still lies in your embrace, you may as well hereupon, like silkworms trapped in their own cocoons, wander from place to place and be drunken until your head is graced by white.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

[1] In Chinese beliefs, stepping over a small pan of fire will purify you and get rid of bad luck.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

[2] Up until he was fourteen years old, Cheng Muyang had firmly believed in Buddhism and had adhered to it. Something drastic happened when he was age fourteen that changed the course of his life, and he left, believing in no one but the girl named Nan Bei, and eventually became the leader of the powerful, underground family of Russia that, as mentioned in Beautiful Bones, functioned outside of the law (similar to the Zhou family of Beautiful Bones). Their story is featured in 一生一世 Vows of Eternal Love, the first of the “One Life, One Incarnation” series, of which both Beautiful Bones and Black and White Film belong.

[3] Indeed, Nan Bei is from the same “world” as the Cheng brothers. The Nan family holds significant weight amongst the powerful underground families, which include the Cheng family and the Zhou (Zhousheng) family featured in Beautiful Bones.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or reposting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

Additional Comments:

I have lots of thoughts on this novel. Like, lots. So the following is some of my brain dump. I’ve been holding it in until the very end of the story so that I didn’t give away any spoilers. So please forgive me if it’s a little disorganized.

<>Please come read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

When I was a kid, my brother and I shared a room. My parents gave him an old TV, you know, one of those boxy, CRT TVs that have a giant antenna on top and if the antenna isn’t adjusted just perfectly, the picture goes fuzzy. Sometimes, when my parents were asleep, we would secretly turn it on. To be honest, the programs late at night were not much to sing praises about, but it was the novelty of watching without Mom and Dad knowing. Muahahaha. Often, we would end up watching old, black and white films, which would every so often go fuzzy and we would have to run over and adjust the antenna again.

A question always bothered me: why did they call those films “black and white”? If you really look at them, they aren’t really black and white at all but actually gray, all different shades of gray, some darker, some lighter.

Black and White Film is a very interesting novel to me. Many of you may know that my favourite novels are ones that get me thinking, and I pondered about this one for weeks after I finished reading it. Yes, the novel is completely fictional and not at all “slice of life,” but yet I find the characters so realistically complex. I posed these rhetorical questions about the characters before: Who is good? Who is evil? Can we really say? When I first read this, I was thinking the mole would be someone “evil,” someone who was greedy and wanted to steal the Buddhist relic because it was a priceless treasure, someone who possibly was power hungry and would betray his brothers in order to gain something for himself—you know, the stereotypical villain. But Chen Yuan and Cheng Jiayi, yes, they did wrong and they are selfish, perhaps, but evil?

I love the title of this story—Life: A Black and White Film. It fits so well with the theme of the story. We love to label people or, in stories, label characters with back and white titles of “good” and “bad.” In reality, though, just like when you watch a black and white movie and realize that it’s actually all shades of gray, people also cannot be so definitively labelled. “How could the world’s ways ever conform to being if not black, then white; and when have they complied with being if not this, then that?”

Even Cheng Muyun, the “hero” of our story, is not actually completely a hero. Yes, his ultimate purpose for what he does is for a greater good, but he is merciless, holds no forgiveness, and will resort to ruthless methods to achieve that greater good. In that aspect, he is “gray.” However, where he draws his lines is black and white. “There was no mercy or leniency in his world. To those who betrayed him, he would return the act tenfold. To those who were wicked, he would use a hundredfold factor to tell the other party just what was meant by ‘evil shall reap evil.'” But the flip side of that is, though he will use all ruthless ways to bring retribution on evil, he will not hurt an innocent.

I translated based on the published, hard copy version of the novel. The ending is slightly different from the version online that was released initially. In that online version, when Wen Han abandoned her identity at the end and went to China, where she found Cheng Muyun, she found he had actually turned away from the secular world and become a monk again. (Of course, everything else happened as you read. He gave up monkhood and left the temple to be with Wen Han, saying to her “I love you.”) You will notice in the published version, which is what you read, this did not happen. He merely withdrew from the world and went to the temple to live the rest of his life; he did not become a monk again. This change is subtle, but very remarkable. I personally believe it is very fitting for the character of Cheng Muyun.

Cheng Muyun himself “knew that worldly things and thoughts plagued him and he would not be able to enter into monkhood again.” Indeed, the ways of the world do not conform to being if not black, then white. But sometimes, people seek out black and white, right and wrong. When Cheng Muyun dealt punishment on Cheng Jiayi and Chen Yuan, he only allowed himself to think about right and wrong and chose not to ask about the reason behind their betrayals. He chose “no mercy, no leniency.” This reminded me discussions I have read or participated in regarding the difference between “judgment” and “grace.” Are Cheng Jiayi and Chen Yuan evil? Who can truly draw that line and make that judgment? This is how the world is not merely black and white. But yet, they needed to bear the responsibility and all the consequences of their choices and actions. In terms of those, right is right and wrong is wrong. Even Wen Han thought, “Doing evil with a good reason is still doing evil.” This is judgment. Grace is being able to see past those actions to the reasons behind them that perhaps are deserving of pity, being able to empathize and able to pity. Even if the action can be identified as “wrong” and consequences/punishments need to be given, you can still forgive.

“Perhaps Buddha can bestow his merciful forgiveness on you. But I cannot.” These were Cheng Muyun’s thoughts. Buddha’s warrior attendant’s eyes are filled with terrible rage to vanquish the Four Maras; Bodhisattva lowers her eyes to shower compassion on the Six Realms. Cheng Muyun is able to be the warrior attendant of Buddha whose eyes are filled with terrible rage at evil, but he is not able to be the Boddhisattva who lowers his eyes to shower compassion. That is because he has chosen to turn away from mercy.

And therefore, Cheng Muyun is not suitable for entering into monkhood.

<>Please come read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

I think I’ll stop talking now. I have plenty more thoughts on Cheng Muyun and could probably write essays on Cheng Jiayi, Chen Yuan, Fu Yiming, etc., but I’ll leave it at that. Thank you to those who have been following along. It certainly is a different novel than all the other ones I’ve translated, and I’m guessing that, though I tried my best to warn you from the start, it still might have caught some of you off guard. LOL. Hopefully this expanded your views of Mo Bao Fei Bao’s writing and who she is as an author. 🙂

In regards to my next project, yes, I have one already. Permissions have been received, and I’ve been doing the prep work for it already to pull myself out of the Black and White Film mood and into the mind space of this next one. I suspect you will see me doing an announcement and kickoff for it within the next several weeks. Meanwhile, I will also officially be taking Don’t Be So Proud under my wing and hopefully bringing its translation to conclusion. I haven’t decided on the translation schedule for that one yet and how it and my next primary project will share time. However, you guys probably have noticed I’m a little OCD, so whatever the schedule will be, I will make sure its set and then let you know. 😉

I thought I would sign off this project with a cute little comic I found that is very appropriate for the theme of Black and White Film. It always manages to pull a guffaw out from me.

Once again, thank you to all my readers. I very much appreciate all of you. ❤


Comic strip was found on Weibo. Fanatical takes no credit for it, except for the translation into English.

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63 thoughts on “Life: A Black and White Film (一生一世,黑白影画) — Epilogue *NOVEL COMPLETED*

  1. Thank you so much Hoju. Much love to you. This was an extremely interesting story. As you pointed out , all the characters were shades of grey. Kudos to Wen Han too. For such a young, sheltered girl she really took things in her stride. I am going back to read it again from the beginning. I look forward to your next translation

  2. Thank you so much for your sharing this lovely novel with us. I’m going to reread from the start 😘😘😘.

  3. Hi Hoju, thanks for translating this novel. I love this story somehow. I’ve read every Mo Bao Fei Bao translation you’ve done, and truly appreciate it. It’s also cool that the author herself has given you permission to do it, which shows her trust in your work.

    Maybe the title refers to life having both hell (darkness/shadow) and heaven (enlightenment/pureness/love). These words are mentioned a number of times in the novel. The grey areas could be considered as degrees of darkness — the darker the grey, the deeper one lives in darkness.

    • Hi! I’m so glad you love this story. 🙂 Thanks for faithfully reading all my translations. ❤ And I appreciate that you let me know, too. Mo Bao Fei Bao is a real sweet person and really supportive of her translations on this blog. I've run to her with a few questions before (like giving her Russian characters' a different name that wasn't pinyin… LOL… She took it in a stride), and she's been lovely and helpful.

      There is no single correct interpretation to the title. After a story leaves the author's pen, it does take on a bit of a life of its own because it can touch people in different ways. Cheng Muyun certainly has shades of darkness in his life, as does everyone, really. 🙂

  4. yup, CMY is not suitable for a monkhood lifestyle, especially having WH on your mind

    yay congrats on completing another translated novel!

  5. I’ve read all of your translations but this is the first time I’m reading it while you are still translating it.. I had fun exploring this book with you and so I really want to thank you for all the translations you have done before and also now!! For someone who can’t read chinese, I really appreciate you for doing this(^∇^)

    • Oh nice! While I genuinely appreciate all readers, I love it when readers follow live. 🙂 It makes for more fun translating as I don’t feel like I’m typing to myself. 🙂

      And thank you for reading everything I’ve translated. ❤ Hope to see you in the next project. 🙂

  6. WOW you are so good with words
    Agree with you this novel is indeed quite different and interesting novel and the last part was cute .
    THANK YOU so much for your excellent work
    I am eagerly awaiting for your new translation 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕

    • Thank you. Not necessarily good with words, but I do usually have lots of thoughts I like to get down somewhere.

      Indeed. Mo Bao Fei Bao enjoys trying new things out, and I love seeing what she comes up with sometimes. This is definitely not your typical romance c-novel. My firm belief is, if you don’t experiment and try new things, you’ll never get any break through. It was a fun challenge to me to translate something so different from what I’ve done before. 🙂

      Thank you! Hope to see you around in the project coming up soon! *hint hint*

  7. Thank you for the translation. I’ve been a silent fan for a long time but want to take this chance to show my appreciation. I absolutely love this story and how different it is from everything else.

    • Thank you for not holding your silence. I’m happy to meet you. ❤
      So happy that you enjoyed this story. I really am fascinated by it, especially the characters, and love the new challenge it posed to me as a translator.

  8. Congrats on completing and thank you for your time and sincerity

  9. Thank you Hoju for yet another fantastic translation of MBFB’s work.
    This novel indeed brings out all the characteristic of people, the good and bad, all shades of grey.
    I struggled in the beginning to read it because I could not escape into the novel.
    The characters had flaws, not like a fairy tale like Xiao Nai, Taupai and their friends. 😦
    Choices and its consequences – that is life too.
    Kow tows to MBFB for taking us to another dimension of her writing.

    AND, I am excited you are going to take up Proud to the end. I cannot wait to finish that novel.
    I think it is my OCD syndrome.
    I must have a finishing. Looking forward to your own project as well.
    Thank you!

    • I usually read a bunch of happy stories to get myself ready, then read a serious (not angsty, but serious) story. Then immediately, I have to go back to happy, fluffy stories again. It took me some time to get up to reading B&W initially, so I understand.

      I really wanted to do this novel, though, because I wanted to show another side of MBFB’s writing. She is not scared of trying things, not scared of experimenting in things that may not be the usual “formula to success and popularity.” I think she did an amazing job executing the story. Whether it is one that you will read comes down to personal preference. (For example, some people love Fei Wo Si Cuan, and I acknowledge her writing is beautiful, but my heart can’t handle most of her stories and the angst…) LOL. That’s why I tried to warn everyone at the very beginning.

      Haha. Indeed. I don’t like things being unfinished, either. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and for your lovely comment. ❤

  10. Thank you, Hoju for this beautiful translation. Me being someone who has to finish a novel in one go, this has been a very different experience and I enjoyed it very much.
    After previous chapter, I had so much thoughts and one was whether CMY’s first meeting with Wen Han really a mistaken identity encounter and I went ahead and read the initial chapter. I ended up smiling on their initial greetings and decided that I need to read this novel again to enjoy all these small connections in talks. This novel definitely has a beauty that captured my heart 🙂.

    Really happy that you are taking up next project and will be back when it’s ready. Appreciate all of your work 🙂.

    • I’m so glad you came along on the ride. It’s fun having people to hang out with when you’re translating. 🙂

      Yes, it truly was a chance encounter in Tibet and then another coincidence when they ran into each other again. That’s why Cheng Muyun thought, he was thankful for his suspicious nature because if he had not been the type that doesn’t believe in coincidences, he would never have tried to get close to Wen Han.

      Definitely, if you re-read this book, you’ll catch a lot of things. Enjoy it!

      See you in the next project. ❤

  11. Love u hoju. Thanks to your hard work i discovered a whole new world of chinese novels.
    Love from Pakistan😙😙😙

  12. Thank you for the novel. I found it very entertaining and touching whiling I was reading this story. I enjoyed reading very much. Thank you again for your hard work to finish this story.

  13. My first comment here, probably one of the few (or maybe not🤣) who came by this blog after reading the posts MBFB shared on weibo. As someone who have always been reading the original Chinese novels, I’ve never thought I would love English-translated ones so much! Beautiful words, both what MBFB has written and what you have translated ❤️ And I really enjoyed reading your additional comments!

    Just want to thank you again for all your translations! ❤️ Looking forward to your next project and I’ll be here to catch on the updates 😝

    • My weibo and blog identities exist in two separate worlds that run in parallel. Very rarely do they ever intersect. I’ve occasionally come across someone who “knew” me first on here and then found me on Weibo, too. You’re the first who came the opposite way. LOL.

      I try my best to retain the feel that MBFB had in her novels and try to judge from comments and feedback from readers, but it’s so nice to get affirmation from someone who has read the Chinese version. ❤

      So, if you've found me on weibo, you probably have a hint at what the next project is. 😉
      See you around!

  14. Thank you for opening my world to chinese novels and Mao Bao Fei Bao. I love her novels and your translations help so much.

  15. Although i did not read the entirety of this novel, the title for me was very fitting and i popped in to read your thoughts. For many personal reasons and preferences, i could not complete reading it. Thankyou for sharing them (your thoughts, musings and opinions) and thankyou for the time you take out to translate. I can always feel the extra care you take to retain the mood and atmosphere as close to the original work.
    The first few chapters the hero felt like an antihero and he had more shades of grey than most male otp i’ve encountered. Coming back to the title it also reminded me of a HK drama with references to grey and the shades of grey people actually are beyond appearances and first impressions.

    I look forward to finding out your next project. For now cheers, take k and catch up with you in future posts

    • Haha. Nice to know that my thoughts are interesting enough that at least one person will specially come read them.

      Cheng Muyun is most certainly an anti-hero. That’s certainly one of the points of the story. He ultimately strive to do good and was fiercely loyal, but if you didn’t understand him, you would definitely question him (and even if you did understand him, you still might question him).

      Thank you for dropping in! See you next project. 🙂

  16. Thank you hoju for translating this novel. Tbh, my heart still feels heavy bcs of Cheng Jiayi and Chen Yuan. I know they’re in the wrong but still… I feel sad for them. The emotional and psycological part kinda affect me more than the romance. Happy for Cheng Muyun and Wen Han to get their happy ending though. I need to read fluffy stuffs after this hahaha.

    Anyway, I keep corelating this story w/ Jian Bianlin. LoL. Did chu jian know that he has to be intimate soooo many times w/ his female lead?? I’m shocked of how many times they have kissed and have s*x.

    • They DID wrong, but you can sympathize with their reasons. I do feel for them as well. The best part of this novel, to me, was the probing into the complexities of the way humans work. There are often psychological and emotional factors that we do not know about; we can only see actions. We can judge the action but we often allow that judgment to pass onto the person as well without the complete story.

      Haha, go enjoy some fluffy novels. I did after translating this one.

      Don’t forget, it was stated right in My Darling that the adaptation took out almost all the mature scenes from the novel. The laundry room scene was added in last minute, and even Chu Jian was thinking, huh, that’s it? Jian Bianlin refuses to be intimate with anyone aside from Chu Jian, even if it’s only acting.

  17. Thanks hoju. Im really enjoying all ur translation.

    Im waiting for your next project

  18. Hoju~, finally, I caught up with the story. ^^
    As I told you, I like to read this kind of novel in one go, and… I love it! Wow, it’s different than the other novels of hers that I read. The pace of the story too… or is it the pace when I read? Anyway… my fave part of this ending:

    Nan Bei: “Cheng Muyang, did you teach me some weird things to say?”
    Cheng Muyang: “Did I? What I taught you were all very cultured things to say.”

    — Yeah, right buddy… *lol*

    As always, thanks a million for dedicating your time and energy to feed us with another novel from MBFB. *hugs&kisses*

    • Can I say “I told you so”? LOL. MBFB never does a formal outline for her novels before she starts writing. Usually, it’s all kept in her head and flows out her fingers as she types. But Black and White is the one novel she has ever said she first did an outline for. Actually, the first book in the series, Vows of Eternal Love, is also different from what you’re used to and a slightly different beast from Black and White, too.

      Not just you. I find the pace fast and intense, too, especially if you read it all in one go and don’t have to pause to wait for your translator’s updates.

      Always grateful for your kind feedback. ❤

  19. Wow, Black and White Film is certainly one of my favorite novels from now on and i foresee that i will re-read this novel again in the near future hahaha or maybe a little later but definitely will go back for Chen Muyun and Wen Han. Mo Bao Fei Bao is definitely an author who I respect because she can really write stories in any genre and give a very different feeling in every novel.
    Thank you so much Hoju for translating her works for us and I actually have read every MBFB novel that you have completely translated except for My Darling (gonna give it a look after this hehe) and I really like your insights on the characters in the stories. It helps me understand a great deal of what MBFB want to express to us and often clears my mind on a certain subject #deeprespectandgratitude.

    Also, a bit of my thougths about this novel is that, I really like the decisiveness of every character, not only Wen Han and Chen Muyun but almost every character in Black and White Film displays great focus on what they want and need to do. Unfortunately there are some whose personal reasons sacrificed many lives like Jiayi and Chen Yuan. Altough I fervently hoped (and got a bit dissapointed because of my own cocoon lol) that the epilogue will include many little bundles of joy born from Wen Han and Muyun, I actually already get a sense of contentment just with the assurance that Wen Han and Muyun got their happily ever after. Guess I just have to make up in my mind that they will definitely have many children who takes after them hahahha. The little background story of Muyun helps Wen Han and us to really understand the timeline of his life before meeting her and it actually seems to excites Wen Han that she still have many layers of Muyun that have to be peeled off in the rest of their life they are together. So, in my mind, they still have their own journey to discover one another while enjoying their fierce love.

    As a Buddhist myself, I really like the way MBFB bring many reference about Buddhism that is accurate and shows a sense of comprehension that she really did the best she could to unravel Buddha’s teachings and add it as a spice to the novel and to be the reason of the MCs behaviors. And I myself know that Buddhist teaching is not that easy to translate so everyone could understand so once again I admire youe great work in conveying the messages.

    Andd this is the end of my random babble hahahha believe it or not this is my first time ever in my 19 years of life to post a comment in a blog. I usually very apathetic about commenting anything but my fingers really itch to say what’s on my mind because of this novel. Hope you are not bored out of your mind because of my comment hahahha. Really looking forward to your next project, I promise I’ll be there after it’s completed! (Because I have a habit of binge-reading novels in one go lol)

    • Thank you for sharing your “first” with us here. I loved reading your thoughts on the novel. One of my other motivations for translating is that I love discussing novels and characters and exchanging opinions. So, thank you.

      In my mind, Wen Han will make good on that promise to have “lots of children” with him, and I’m sure Cheng Muyun will not disappoint her in that wish. 😉 So I’ll just let my imagination take over from there.

      Every relationship is like that. You can always learn something new about your significant other, always. Wen Han just happens to have a hubby whose slightly more interesting than other people (kind of a bit of an understatement, huh?).

      Oh my, someone who is actually learned in Buddhist doctrine. I hope it came across correctly. 🙂

      I look forward to hearing from you at the conclusion of The Healing Sunshine, then. 🙂 Cheers for now!

  20. I read everything…the additional comments at the end, the readers comments and your replies…all of it, lol. Thank you🙏🏽.

  21. Finally…. I made it to the end. Thank you so much for this translation. I must say, among all the Mo Bao Fei Bao novels that has been translated and I had read, this is a pretty heavy stuff. I did not do it deliberately but the break in between when I got too busy to continue to read was indeed a good break. The ending was great! Once again, thank you @Hoju for bringing this to us. Now I can start the current projects that you are translating. Hopefully, soon I could catch up….

    • I’m so sorry it took me a whole month to reply. I was on vacation and I missed quite a few comments.
      Glad to see you here at the end. 🙂 Definitely a different read, not the warm, fuzzy type you might expect. 😀
      See you in Healing Sunshine!

  22. Thank you for sharing this story with us. I like Mo Bao Fei Bao as an author, and I feel that this story is tonally different from all of the other stories I’ve had a chance to read so far by her, but also the same. That same bleakness in certain scenes, that same sense of inevitability, yes. But also the story of spies, and intrigue, and hostages and a woman falling in love with a man who is completely different from her. He saved her many times, but she was the one who ended up saving him in the end.

    The author wrote the story in such a way, that I even felt sympathetic for the ‘villains’ in the end, especially the cousin who gave up so many others for that one life, and ended up losing that one life in the end anyways.

    Thank you for all of your hard work and giving us another great translation of a great author. 🙂

    • This was is indeed different from the ones that have been translated to date, although if you’ve read her full set of works, this one won’t seem as shocking. Still, stylistically, it does explore thing that she never explored in her works prior to this one. She’s an author who isn’t afraid of trying different stuff. 😀
      Yes, I think because of her, he was able to pull himself out completely from his hell that he had been trapped in.

      The way the characters were presented to us is exactly why I am captivated by this story. No person can be defined with black and white. Actions can he classified as right and wrong, but people can’t simply be called good and evil, or at least, not completely good and completely evil. There is something worthy of sympathy, admiration, etc. in Chen Yuan, Cheng Jiayi, etc. and things you question and even possibly despise with Cheng Muyun. But aren’t people like that?

      Thank you for reading. 🙂

  23. Thank you Hoju for a great translation and for introducing me to the authors in this site. This is my first time commenting after reading most of the books on this site. One thing that made me confused in this story is whether Wen Han can be classified as ethnic chinese if she is only a quarter chinese. Wouldn’t she be classified as mixed ethnicity? It’s like filling in application forms where they ask whether you are Caucasian, African descent, Chinese, Indian, Mixed etc. What would Wen Han fill in?

    I really admire the respect you give to the authors and the stories they write which you have translated. I also like to thank you and the other translators (Peanuts and Lidge) as well as the editors for the hard work that you guys have done. I have read other translations and it takes a lot of time and effort to do these translations and to do it so well and complete the whole book is amazing.

    After reading the stories in this blog, I am going to buy some of my favourite books while I am in China later this year and try and work my way through with the help of your translations. Though I can see myself giving up after the first 10 pages since I can’t read chinese!

    Thank you once again and your efforts are greatly appreciated!

  24. Finally finished the novel. Surprisingly, my head fills empty or should it be numb instead? Reading about the lives of the ops team, that they can’t review their names. Just such a thing, makes me feel sad for the path that they choose to walk in. For one to live in this life, they’ll need to be able to handle such pressure else they break.
    I had wondered about whether there was any protection taken when they had sex. Lol. Well, she gave the answer to that a few chapters later. Dunno why but I find it quite amusing.
    Reading that Zhuang Yan and Fan Yiming are actually not dead makes me feel relieved for the ops team, i’m glad that they can still continue their journey. For I wish that they’ll never have to lose their brothers, to never suffer such a pain.

    It’s also a good thing Fu Yiming is alive. After all, who else will and can help Wen Han reunite with Cheng Muyun. He wished to protect her, that she may live her life in peace and stability. I hope that with him by her side, may they have many years together.

    Thank you for translating the novel.

  25. Thanks for the translations 🙂 There were times I wanted to give up reading it, especially when he ‘abducted’ her across the border, but I am glad I continued. What makes this story so unique is it’s characters. While there certainly are greedy and power hungry people out there, the blurring of boundary between black and white made this novel so much more interesting.
    I haven’t encountered such difficult choices, but I am not one to forgive easily. My definition of evil is someone who wants to/does hurt my loved ones. If so, I will make sure to pay back with interest. But what happens if the said loved ones hurt each other? Though I don’t know what CM would have felt if he knew their reasons. Would he be able to kill them? I don’t know.

    Maybe what initially turns most readers off is the brutal sense of realism in this story, paired with the not-so-easy love between our leads. But for an ordinary girl, I admire WH’s courage and intelligence, someone else might have broken down mentally if they were in her place.

    I will stil maintain that I wished the author had shown something different than the image of India we see here (even if ir is partly true), but then my bias as an Indian is at play. There were also mentions about Nepal, which I looked over. From the descriptions of our customs and rituals, she probably did visit Varanasi, and her understanding of Buddhism is quite good. But I can’t bear that it paints my whole country in the same colors, even if it wasn’t intentional.

    Thanks again for completing this novel, it was a memorable read.

  26. The pandas made me laugh out loud which earned me several glaring eyes and lifted brows😆😆😆

  27. Mo Bao Fei Bao is such an inspiring author. This particular novel helps us to reflect the goodness of every being especially since most of the characters in Chinese Romance-genred stories are considered as perfect, cultured, and purely stained-free hands. I especially liked how very open Cheng Muyun was towards his feelings to Wen Han. I DID somehow wished that in the middle of the story, Wen Han carried his child but the reason behind it was understandable as bearing his child would cause his enemies to target Wen Han (or was it both the mother and child?)

    • This story truly brings out that every person is multifaceted, and there are multiple sides to every situation. I love the complexity of the characters.
      It would have been much too dangerous. She and the child would have been targeted, which would hence have put Cheng Muyun in danger as well. He did everything he could, even faking death, to ensure her safety. Not just safety but a secure, ordinary life. He would never put her at risk in that way.

  28. Thank you so much for the amazing translation of another wonderful MBFB story! ♡

    It certainly is different from the others I have read so far, but I really enjoyed it. Though the thrill and mystery (and passionate romance heheh) kept me curious and wanting to marathon all the chapters in one go, it was also very intense and I had to pause in between to digest all that had happened haha.

    I’m always surprised by how deep the characters are (especially this novel) when MBFB’s novels aren’t exactly that long vs novels which can have 100s of chapters. I like how deliberate her writing is, and how you always break it down for us in your additional comments~

    I will continue to read the other translated novels asap, though I’m also reluctant to finish everything too quickly lest I have nothing else left to read! Haha 😀

  29. hello 😊 thank you for translating this novel
    I watched these characters grow and reveal sides of them that really make you ponder about the idea of “black and white”
    …haha the reason I started surfing through novelupdates was to really just read novels that are clear-cut and unrealistic, the typical slice of life, and predictable plots and so on…the type you want to read after reading really heavy and intense stuff but hohoho this novel is quite interesting and the writing’s real good (translating it while trying to convey the same meaning must be taxing, good job on that!)
    too bad I can’t read mandarin, would love to have the hard-copy meself
    can’t really say that it would be one of my faves but it’s the type that’s quite unforgettable

  30. Thanks for this translation, I enjoy your flowing style : ) and the cute cartoon too!

  31. Thank you for translating.
    P.S how many novels are there in the one life,one incarnation series

    • Thanks for reading. Hope you liked the story. To date, she has written four novels in this series, and there is also another novel that is not part of the series but linked.

  32. Hi Hoju
    I Usually read completed novels so I could binge read them but for this novel I read both the novel and all the comments. It was a lot of fun . Thank you for all the beautiful novels you have translated. Both this one and beautiful bones are my favourite. Hope next time can follow along with you and participate in the comment section 🤗

  33. Thank you so much for the efforts and time on translating this high quality novel. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the time and this is probably the novel that has the highest level of character development that I’ve ever read.

  34. Thank you @Hoju for your translation!! I absolutely love this novel!! I love the fact that Chen Muyun has many shade of darkness to his character, yet despite this he is still able to love deeply!! I am off to read more if your work:)

  35. Out of all stories/novels that I’ve read on this site. This one is the most heavy for me. Every single chapter left me with more questions 😂😂 but it’s also because of it that got me even more interested and I couldn’t control myself and kept reading.

  36. Thank you so much for choosing to translate this!

    I always thought the author MBFB only wrote poetic but fluffy and wholesome with a bit of slice of life type of genre.. so this novel really opened up to a whole new world to me. At times like this I wish I could read and understand Chinese Mandarin and read works of my favourite authors till my heart content TvT

    • Hooray! I am so glad you chose to read this and it gave you a fresh perspective of the author.
      I saw your comments on the other chapters. Forgive me for not responding to all of them, but do know that I read them all. ❤

      Happy New Year!

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