Black Cell

Life in a Chinese detention centre – by Dylan Levi King


I left Guangzhou in a mess. I had rolled in a year before, coming from Shanghai on a thirty hour train with no seat, slumped beside the bathroom door, but had picked myself up and scraped together a near-perfect life: a job doing nothing, a girlfriend, an apartment in a luxury compoud and trips to Hong Kong on the weekend. But had trashed it all in the space of a few weeks. I became nocturnal, haunting the clubs downtown. I would wake up in the apartment of my dealer, huddled up with a girl and a blister pack of pills, or sleep it off in a spa and wake up at noon. That summer I looked up a friend of a friend, found an email that had been in my inbox for months, and lined up a job in Datong, Shanxi. I took the slow train headed north, carrying only a backpack with a change of clothes and my laptop.


Hoop Dreams

A photo essay by Lauren Teixeira


If I had not grasped the insane love of basketball among Chinese boys before I came to China, I was aware of it by the end of teaching my first English class. During the obligatory introduction session my male students, one after the other, told me that their hobbies were “basketball and computer games”. But really, I needed only consult my roster. Over the course of one year in Nanjing, I taught approximately five Kobes, two Bryants, three Derrick Roses, two Peirces, a Wade and an Iverson.

Despite the widespread passion for the game, which is played in most Chinese schools, kids have little chance to enjoy it in their free time. It broke my heart to see how stressed out my students were, studying from sunrise to sundown. This basketball tournament was the first time I had seen them truly excited. I started to bring my camera to their daily twenty-minute lunchtime matches. This is how I want to remember my students – cheering, captivated, momentarily forgetful of schoolwork, shooting for the hoop.


Wish Lanterns

A new book by Alec Ash


While we've been publishing stories from China by you, dear readers of our little colony, your humble editors have also been beavering away at their own writing. Now that fruit is ripe for the tasting. So gather around. That's right, it's time for some shameless self promotion and abuse of editorial privilege as I plug my own book.

On top of my own journalism, and anything else that keeps me in my noodles, for the last four years I've been germinating, researching and writing my first book, Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China. It's literary nonfiction, a deep dive into the lives of six young Chinese of my own generation, and it was published yesterday by Picador.

The book is very narrative in conception, and jumps between the six people I write about, telling their stories from childhood to mid to late twenties. There's Lucifer, an aspiring superstar (who was in Rustic for those who know it); Snail, a country migrant from Anhui who gets addicted to World of Warcraft; Fred, daughter of a Party official from Hainan; and even a love story, though I won't spoil the surprise by revealing which two characters meet each other halfway through the book.


On the Platform

A short story from Shanghai – by Michael Russam


He still caught himself getting lost, from time to time, in thoughts about the city that had been his home for a year now. About the way that Shanghai was so prettily decorated with its past and present and future but also, the more he thought about it, so muddied and polluted. Today wasn’t one of those days, though.


Poem: Hamburgers

A satirical poem by Arthur Meursault


Ed: This is a parody of Calvin Trillin’s poem about Chinese food Have They Run Out Of Provinces Yet?, which is also funny and worth reading. Arthur’s poem looks at it from the Chinese perspective …


Have they run out of hamburgers yet?

Or is it as endless as their debt?

McDonalds came with Big Macs and fries,

Soon even Zhengzhou had a franchise.

Next came along old Colonel Sanders,

Pushed new stores through Party back-handers.