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Bird Talk

A story of old Hong Kong – by Rosalyn Shih

 

Gor Tsai’s first words were the grumblings of a policeman’s walkie talkie.

Peggy’s husband brought him home in a bell-shaped bamboo cage he balanced on his knees for the minibus ride from Yuen Po Market, only three stops away. The bird’s name meant “little brother”, because the Cantonese name for his kind was baat gor or “brother eight”.

Setting his bounty on the dining room table, the husband solemnly shushed his parents and his wife, waiting for the bird to speak.

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Whisky and Writers

 

The boozy highlight of the 10th Beijing Bookworm literary festival last month 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 event, after Writers and Rum in 2014 and Scotch and Stories in 2015 (click through to listen to the audio from both). The first two were organised by the Anthill, but this time Anthony Tao at the Bookworm took over the franchise and invited me to read a story instead, from my chapter in our anthology book While We're Here.

The other readers were all writers in town for the festival, which means we got the cream of the literary crop and some terrific tales, including Hong Kong cartoonist Larry Feign on learning Chinese, and Mexican novelist Valeria Luiselli on, erm, morning glory. It was a delectable 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. - Alec Ash

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Beijing Lights

A photo essay by Jens Schott Knudsen

 

Ed: These photos will be exhibited at Ju Er space (no.8 Ju’er hutong, Beijing) with an exhibition opening this Sunday April 24th at 4pm

"Peking is like a grand old tree, whose roots stretch deep into the earth and draw sustenance from it. Living under its shade and subsisting upon its trunk and branches are millions of insects … How can a Peking resident describe Peking, so old and so grand?"

- Lin Yutang, 1940

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Festival of Ghosts

New Chinese literature – a story by Zheng Xiaolu, read by Tiffany Lam

 

Ed: We're delighted to bring you a new kind of feature: audio stories. This is thanks to Anna Savittieri, who got together with her college friends Tiffany Lam and Jacob Spitzer to produce a reading of "Festival of Ghosts", a haunting story by the Chinese writer Zheng Xiaolu about family planning, translated by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping and the text was originally published on Words Without Borders here. Anna has also done a Q&A with the author at her blog here and we've reposted it below. As Anna writes, "Translation is a huge barrier to accessing Chinese literature, but it still seems strange that so little is available in English ... Without access to contemporary culture, we forget the people, combining the state and its citizens under our notion of 'Chinese'." We hope you enjoy listening.

 

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Red Mark

My childhood during the Cultural Revolution – by Jianguo Wu

 

In my early days at nursery school, in the late sixties, my teacher was Mrs Nian. She was a kind person. When the nursery school couldn’t offer any food to the children except boiled water, Mrs Nian sometimes brought fruit from her own home for us. But later she was denounced by the other teachers and was forced to stop teaching. I saw a meeting taking place in the school office, where Mrs Nian was standing at the front with a board hung around her neck.

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