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House of Cards

Spring Festival with the losers of China’s development – by Frank Muruca

 

“I apologize. My uncle lives in a shanty house.”

On the second day of the Chinese New Year, in the town of Jintan, Jiangsu Province, a teacher colleague named Wei invited me to spend the day with him. All morning, we had been driving around town on a kind of sober bar crawl – dropping into relatives’ homes for not more than 15 minutes, eating dates and nuts, and bestowing hongbao to the children. By lunchtime, my coat pockets were filled with lone cigarettes and candy. At one stop, an aunt had put a halfdozen cherries into my pocket “for the road”.

“After lunch, we like to play cards,” Wei told me. “Well, really it’s to gamble. We will go to my uncle’s house. It’s his turn to host the family. Next week, it will be my turn.”

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Mixed Blood

On being biracial in Beijing – by Amy Hawkins

 

“Mixed blood” is not a term I thought I’d ever take too kindly to, resonant as it is of eugenics, segregation and Harry Potter’s “mudbloods”. But just as the past is a foreign country, so too are, well, foreign countries.

Tourists in China often return home with tales of being asked to take hundreds of photographs with locals, who marvel at their white or black or brown skin, their height, and their willingness to walk through the dusty streets without wearing a mask. Living in Beijing, an international city like Shanghai, I have mostly avoided becoming such a curiosity. Reveal that I am half Chinese, however, and the questions come flooding in.

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Year of the Untranslatable Animal

A poem for the new year, by Kassy Lee

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SPITOON

 

Sheep, goat, ram – what will I count on

to sleep tonight? Five silences punctuate

the fireworks blooming red-eye flight.

 

I can’t tell you this year’s new name.

Every twelve years, another failed

translation for animals

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Doorman

A true patriot – fiction by Tim Rinaldi

 

The residents – they never see me. No one does. Through the murky glass they see the cigarette smoke curling around the blue uniform in the circular booth, but they never see me. I see everything. The monkey boy hair, the degenerate piercings, the garish tattoos. I hear it, too. The music they play, so loud, so crazy, so many sounds that do not sound like music.

“Shushu, you cannot understand,” my niece Xiaorong says. “It is too different from when you were young in Shandong. Do you even know how to dance to the Little Apple Song?”

These days people think you’re some kind of idiot if you’ve never used the Internet before. It is true that I do not participate in these activities like she and her clever friends from shifandaxue do. I would not wish to, even if I could.

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Revolutionary Class

A tribute to a father’s love in chaotic times – by Jianguo Wu

 

Ed: 元旦快乐 and a happy 2017 to all readers in the colony! We have some great nonfiction stories lined up for the first months of the new year, like this touching, untold true tale from the Cultural Revolution. If you'd like to see more like it, pleasdonate to keep the hill alive

It was in the early 1970s, during the Cultural Revolution. Meat was very rare at that time; everyone had only half a kilogram of meat ration each month. Even if you had the ration ticket, there was still no guarantee that there was meat to buy with it.

My father worked as a labourer in a steel factory. At lunchtime one day, the factory’s canteen offered a bowl of ‘twice-cooked pork’ (huiguorou) to each worker – extra meat without need for a ration ticket. My father didn’t eat it but kept it in a round metal bowl. In the afternoon when he finished work, he brought it home to share with the whole family – my mother, me and two younger sisters.

For many years, I have wondered how my father brought that bowl of meat back home on his bicycle – a bicycle so old that it was hard to decipher its trademark. It was five kilometres from the factory to his home, on bumpy roads. He had neither plastic bag nor food box, only a round metal bowl without a lid. He held the bowl on the rear bike rack with a cheap clamp. But he managed to ride home without losing a single piece of pork. I have always wondered how.

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