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A post-it note from the colony

 

Ed: Dear readers, a quick note before any more dust gathers on the Anthill. You might have noticed posting has been thin in the last months, and I'm sorry for that – I've been busy, and travelling in the UK and Asia since October. I'm now in Hong Kong, and if any readers are here please join me tonight for a book talk at the HK literary festival. I'm back in Beijing next week, and we'll be drip-feeding some terrific new stories on the site from then, including tales from freezing Dongbei and a torch festival in Sichuan.

Four years ago today (happy guanggunjie!) I published our first post from back in China, a dispatch from Tibet. Since then we've grown to a colony of over a hundred writers, and published over 330 stories as well as an anthology book. Now the Anthill is going through some changes, though we'll keep you in suspense until after the Chinese new year. Until then, keep following us and keep submitting stories: we'll still be posting, aiming for one new story a week, giving a home for new China writing.

Keep positive folks, and live the values you believe in. Nothing can trump an act of kindness. - Alec

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Post(ing) Mao

The revolution lives on – by Vincent McLeese

 

I found the post office hidden in an alleyway a couple of hours before my flight home. A single electric light bulb threw long shadows across the room. A scent of cardboard and black tea filled my nostrils. In the darkest corner, an elderly woman with sleepy eyes cleared the counter of the pile of torn gloves she was mending. It must have been hours, maybe days since her last customer. I affectionately greeted her as ayi, auntie. She smiled and amicably referred to me as tongxue, classmate.

“Can I still send something back to my parents in America?” I asked. “Just a little gift.”

“No problem,” Auntie almost eagerly assured. “Just put what you wish to send on the scale.”

I did.

“Oh.” Auntie exhaled as she stared at my intended postal passenger.

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Don't Blame Ling Ling

Flash fiction by Eric Allen

 

My new girlfriend Ling Ling works at the largest condom factory in the world.

Naturally, she was a bit embarrassed to tell me at first. But after a few weeks of saying she worked at some packaging factory she sort of laid it on me. I was shocked. My girlfriend makes condoms. I couldn’t believe it. I never thought I would have a girlfriend that made condoms for a living.

This all might have sounded strange once, but six months ago I moved to one of those boom cities on the shores of Southern China where everything rushes along in the haze of progress. I guess I went to China to find myself. Well, I found Ling Ling instead. She’s beautiful. Skin that seems to be gently graced with the tanned thumb of God.

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Death by White Chocolate

On white privilege in China – by Sophie Haas

THIS ESSAY FIRST APPEARED AT LORELI

 

The realization struck on my very first day in China, when I was 17: during the 14-hour plane trip from New York, I had somehow become a tourist attraction. I’d landed in Beijing the night before, and my host family had decided the way to welcome me to China was a sunrise trip to Tiananmen Square to watch the raising of the flag.

Apart from eating a cucumber and drinking overly sweet green tea from a bottle, I hardly remember anything about that day or Tiananmen itself. But one memory has always stood out as clearly as if it happened yesterday: many, many people wanted either to take my picture or to have their picture taken with me. At first I tried to refuse, but soon I started to get into it, putting a friendly arm around someone’s daughter or copying the peace sign that everyone else seemed to be making in pictures. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t flattered, or that I really minded the picture taking. I’d never been considered exotic in my life and that day I began to understand what it was to feel like a model.

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Party Dinner

Satire from the lazy susan – new fiction by Arthur Meursault

AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL PARTY MEMBERS

 

Between Little Qi’s gloating at work and their current taxi ride, it had been a woeful day. Yet again, Party official Yang Wei had experienced misfortune on public transport during his journey home when a particularly sharp-elbowed grandmother had succeeded in pushing him off the crowded bus just before the doors closed, forcing him to wait another thirty minutes in the rain. While standing by the bus stop an entrepreneurial shoe-shiner had thrown mud on his shoes in an attempt to drum up some impromptu business. The crowd of fellow commuters had laughed at him as he tried to clean his soiled shoes in a puddle of dirty water, and when he returned home he discovered that the shoe-shiner had spat on the back of his jacket for failing to take up his kind offer of a twenty-yuan shoeshine. Yang Wei was dreading dinner.

Though the weekend had not yet arrived, the Five Harmonies Delicious Gourmet Seafood Restaurant was bursting with customers. Seafood restaurants were popular in Huaishi. In the evenings, the main roads of the city were lined with desperate young men in cheap tuxedos trying to drag patrons into their deserted establishments. The Five Harmonies Delicious Gourmet Seafood Restaurant succeeded in business better than most of its competitors because it had a reputation for not cutting corners.

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