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Articles tagged "Mexian, China"

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1. It was a winter’s night, the kind with icy winds that blew so hard they tore into one’s pores and a cold that was enough to make each lonely heart freeze over. There, in the park, a ghostly young man drifted, a wandering soul with no family or friends to rely on. His black eyes flashed beneath the murky gray lamppost light as he watched me walking toward him. “This late and you’re not going home yet?” I patted one of his hunched up shoulders and he made an...

The Old Man, the Mist, and a List of Dreams

Translated by Eric M. B. Becker Image: Guangzhou, Tomás Franco It’s early yet to write about China, it’s too late to write about China, it all depends on the true age of your soul (and this you’ll never know) so you offer your reader three options: a scene in some Cantonese town square, a prediction about what you might remember about The Script Road literary festival in Macau, or a guide to dreaming for the jet-lagged insomniac. 1. Image:...

“The Fair-haired Princess” and Serious Literature

Father’s bookshelves were lined mostly with Marxist-Leninist books. I remember the titles on some of the spines. I can’t remember some others, because the words were too abstract. I loitered in front of Father’s bookcase every day. One day, out of the blue, Father brought home from the library several books of foreign fairy tales (by then, he had been sent to work under surveillance in the library—this was called “reeducation through labor”). Father...

Free!

“I’m free!” Scarlet shouted, waving a letter at me. She was down in the street, holding onto her rolled-up pant legs, knee-deep in floodwater. From where I stood on the balcony, I could see her craning her slender neck upward, looking rather like a small flamingo about to take flight. “My mom’s dead! I don’t have to do it anymore! I’m free!” It was early summer, 1989. It had been raining for seven days straight and builders’ rubble had...

The City and the Writer: In Beijing with Jen Lin-Liu

If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.                     —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities Can you describe the mood of Beijing as you feel/see it? I’m most familiar with the hutongs, or the old alleys, of Beijing. The hutongs were built before the advent of the car, so they are very...

From the Archives: Chinese Writing, Banned and Otherwise

Mo Yan's Nobel turned a spotlight on Chinese writers and literature, and the continuing controversy over his selection has prolonged, and intensified, that focus. Our timely current issue of banned writing represents only a fraction of the Chinese work on the site; so if you’ve worked your way through this month’s offerings and find yourself hungry for more, do check out our rich archive, where close to a hundred pieces across all genres provide a wide-ranging survey of...

Awakening the Individual Consciousness

This essay is part of “What Kind of China do We Want?,” a project of the Foreign Policy Initiative to inform the American public about the ideas and goals of China’s intellectuals, activists and dissidents.  It was noon on a summer’s day in 1966.  The weather was hot, so my grandmother took us to have lunch under the shade of a tree.  Just as the food was being put on the table, a foul burning smell came from over the horizon, making it difficult to...

from “Black Rock”

Writer Yang Xianhui traveled around China interviewing survivors of the great famine of 1959.  He circumvented government censorship by adding details and presenting the results as fiction. In this chapter from his book The Dingxi Orphanage, a woman describes the horrific toll the famine took on her village. I grew up in the legendary Black Rock Village, a part of Xiangnan Township in Tongwei County. Old village folks used to recount a well-known tale: One night, with a loud...

An Interview with Yan Lianke

At Thinkers Café, a dimly lit café near Peking University, Yan Lianke chooses a side table with a desk lamp that flickers on and off as we speak. The outspoken author and ex-military man is strikingly mild-mannered. Yan enlisted in the army when he was a teenager. He spent the next two decades as a military propaganda writer, while testing the state censors’ limits and his army superiors’ patience with an increasingly ambitious and politically pointed series...

The Man with the Knife

He lay back on the sofa, tipsy. She had invited him out for a meal and now they were back at her flat. He was a renowned poetry critic with a successful career. She was just an aspiring poet. He had agreed to help her be “successful”—that was the word they used in China nowadays. It was not easy to be a successful poet. She would have to work hard. She offered him tea to sober him up. Then they could go on talking about poetry—Rilke and Yeats, even Foucault and...

from “Memories of the Cowshed”

Memories of the Cowshed is one of China’s top bestsellers on the Cultural Revolution. Ji Xianlin’s 1998 memoir recounts the painful and deeply disenchanting period he spent in the “cowshed,” an improvised prison on the Peking University campus for intellectuals labeled as “class enemies.” After the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), the cowsheds became a taboo subject on campuses across China, where persecutors and victims often continued to work...

Death Fugue

Sheng Keyi’s Death Fugue, which takes its title from the famous poem by Paul Celan, is an absurdist allegorical tale about freedom and shackles, rebellion and dictatorship. The protagonist, Yuan Mengliu, is a poet who gives up poetry to become a doctor and moves to a city he thinks is Utopia, only to realize that it is controlled by a dictatorship. In this scene, Yuan Mengliu goes on a walk with a woman from the city. Yuan Mengliu did not worry about the precise location of the...

An Interview with Chan Koon-chung

Chan Koon-chung’s gray, shoulder-length hair is a throwback to the seventies, when Chan founded an influential cultural and alternative lifestyle magazine, City Magazine. Chan has since made a point of being where the action is: City Magazine saw Hong Kong navigate the anxiety-filled return to Chinese sovereignty, and in the early nineties, Chan moved to Taiwan, where he worked in television during the transition to full democracy that had the country choose its first popularly...

Words without Borders announces Bei Dao’s upcoming visit to the Northside College Prep High School

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact Information Contact: Joshua Mandelbaum, Executive Director Organization Name: Words without Borders Telephone Number:  E-mail Address: [email protected] Web site Address: www.wordswithoutborders.org Words without Borders announces Bei Dao’s upcoming visit to the Northside College Prep High School New York City, New York, February 7, 2012—Words without Borders (WWB) is pleased to announce a school visit and a public...

About the Young Writer Zheng Xialou

Zheng Xiaolu, editor of a literary magazine, is only twenty-five years old. He was probably twenty-two when he wrote this story. Last year, he and another editor visited me to discuss how I arrange for publication of my works.  Later on, he sent his stories to me.  After reading his short stories, I was astonished, because he is still so young and yet he writes like an old hand.  Moreover, gloomy and forceful power shows through between the lines. He has a sober and...

A Beethoven Chronology

On a certain day in a certain month of the Enlightenment clear skies      light winds out of the southwest high in the low 70s Beethoven is born in a bed on a certain day in a certain month of the Enlightenment a soap dish tumbles to the floor the other foot steps into a slipper Mozart says keep your eye on this Beethoven he’s going to rock the world on a certain day in a certain month of the Enlightenment “Hello! Good evening!”...

Your Dog

a dog lives it’s your shadow it learns about life learns to go to toilets learns to run forward with a lighter in its mouth once you take out a cigarette not only does it run forward with a lighter in its mouth it tugs your sock too and runs about like you’ve been everywhere it barks at the mirror full of fear when you fart it straightens its ears you go to the washroom, it rummages behind the toilet bowl you write, it’ll knock out some nonsense on the...

Soul

We had a visitation from a woman who’d been dead for many years we felt her presence but see her we could not heard her voice instructing us to turn the hand-crank of the projector in the room (there’s always a room with one) and as the sprockets clicked the flywheels spun a cone of light (it’s always a cone of light) illumined a corner of the room where she appeared   like every spirit ought to we were so bewitched we quite forgot to ask her what the afterlife was...

The Story of a Homosexual: An Interview with Ni Dongxue

I met Ni Dongxue in 2006, in a quiet and nicely decorated gay bar through two musician friends who played in a band there. The bar is located in the city’s Moziqiao region, a popular nightlife spot. A pioneer and recognized leader in Chengdu’s gay community, the then-thirty-six-year-old Ni graduated from Beijing Teachers’ University with a master’s degree in psychology. Ni wore heavy makeup and a bright yellow shirt. He said he visited the place every week to...

A Couple’s Old Sutra

She is old breasts sagging like bags of flour River runs from their hometown people on two banks change batch after batch like summer fireflies that glow and dim But the river won’t change in its capacity to reflect the moon If impermanence still saddens me I must be a fool Translation of   "Fu fu lao gu jing. " Copyright Yang Jian. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2011 by Fiona Sze-Lorrain. All rights reserved.

Narratives of 1960

Grandmother’s last clothing is a reed mat her coffin a small fishing boat The year was 1960 She stole a kilo of yellow beans Those who ordered her to kneel on snail shells are mostly dead Those still alive are also old Some are tending shops some sleep or herd ducks Translation of   "Yi jiu liu ling nian ji shi. "  Copyright Yang Jian. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2011 by Fiona Sze-Lorrain. All rights reserved.

Exploding Cow

In Shandong, someone sticks a plastic tube through the cow’s nostril and into its stomach, then pours water. The animal collapses, limbs dangling skyward, belly swollen. Docile black eyes stare out in terror. These eyes, this belly will soon explode, but the man who pours water in the cow is still laughing.   Translation of “Bao zha de niu” Copyright Yang Zi. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2010 by Fiona Sze-Lorain, Ye Chun, and...

Mongolian

from “King-Ma Has Come”

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Wei Tsung-Cheng produces a mock-heroic Chinese political history

King-Ma Has Come (Ma Huang Jiang Lin) is a product of the hugely popular kuso culture in Asia. Also known as egao in Mandarin Chinese, the genre is known for its campy humor and outrageous parodies of the politically correct media portrayal of reality. King-Ma, Wei Tsung-cheng’s kuso martial arts take on political culture in Taiwan, pokes fun at everyone from Taiwan’s current and former presidents, Ma Ying-jeou and Chen Shui-bian, to the reigning figures of modern Chinese history,...

Power of the Powerless

    Chinese rock star Cui Jian begins his song "The 90s" with the line: "Words are not precise already—can't express this world clearly." And in the clarity of that expression, he voices the sentiment of a generation of Chinese youth: China's inexorable lurch into the twenty-first century made language as dizzying as change itself. No vocabulary existed to describe the fast-forward motion of China's modernization. Language that had once rooted every Chinese...

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