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China Prep

New fiction from the China classroom - by Quincy Carroll

 

Ed: You might have heard of Quincy Carroll's foreign-teacher-in-China novel Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside, which I've just finished reading and enjoyed a lot. We're delighted to share this exclusive extract of his new novel, a work-in-progress also set in China ...

The first time you had come to China had been over spring break in 2003, and you and your classmates had spent the week visiting places like the Forbidden City, the Lama Temple, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall. Many of you had been lucky enough to have traveled outside of the U.S. before, but with the exception of another boy named Benjamin, you were the only one in your school who had ever been to Asia. Your mother and father had taken you and Abraham to Taiwan once in second grade to meet your father’s side of the family, but that had been so long ago and you had both been so young that it was no more than a memory—distant and hazy—by then.

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Shower Business

Last days of a Beijing bathhouse – by Robert Foyle Hunwick

 

Just shy of a century old, the Shuangxingtang bathhouses in the far south Beijing suburb of Fengtai is one of the capital’s toughest buildings. So far it has survived a republic, various warlords, a full-scale occupation and a bitter civil war, followed by everything the Communist Party could throw at it. It’s fitting that property developers are most likely to finish this place off. A shame – there aren’t many hide-aways where one can escape from decorum so cheaply. Napping, grumbling, smoking and masculine displays are all being pushed out to the suburbs.

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Bright Lights, Big Dreams

Inside the world of reality TV dating shows – by Alec Ash

 

When rock didn’t make him famous, Lucifer tried TV. Rustic had burnt bright but short. D-22 club had closed in early 2012, and the scene had moved on. But talent and dating shows were booming, and here he looked for a new adoring audience.

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Clouds and Hutongs

Two poems by Xue Di – translated by Alison Friedman

 

Clouds

Those are clouds – lifeless expressions in eyes swaying below

cracked lips; on vision’s gloomy coast, they hide and seek.

That is me in the empty field,

alarmed.

The road’s deceptive snakeskin pattern; in all directions voracious trees

devour sunlight.

Those are clouds. In delusion I summon those clouds longing

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Whisky and Writers

A boozy storytelling night in Beijing

 

The Anthill's regular event in the 10th Beijing Bookworm literary festival was an evening of drinking and storytelling called 'Whisky and Writers', where five writers read five stories, paired with five whiskies. This is the third such annual gathering, after Writers and Rum in 2014 and Scotch and Stories in 2015 (click through to listen to the audio from both). I read from my chapter in our anthology book While We're Here, and the other readers were all writers in town for the festival, with stories including Hong Kong cartoonist Larry Feign on learning Chinese, and Mexican novelist Valeria Luiselli on, erm, morning glory. It was a sold-out and drunken night – each story less articulate than the last as we got through our drinks – and now we're pleased to share the video of it for those who weren't there.

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