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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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White Monkey

Living it large as a laowai performer – by Eli Sweet

 

I was already a rapper when I arrived in Chengdu in the fall of 2006. I had started rapping in high school, around when I started studying Chinese, and my identity back then was largely defined by those two hobbies. After I graduated college I recorded two hip hop mixtapes, which were released to underwhelming public response. Hip hop had begun to look like a long shot; China seemed increasingly promising by contrast. So at the suggestion of a former study-abroad classmate I hopped a plane for Chengdu.

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King Cobra

A poem by Tim Tomlinson

 

The dog’s barking woke them –

a cobra had entered the house

 

and now, reared up, hood flared,

the snake stared down the barking dog,

 

who snapped and pawed and feinted. 

Roy, from Chicago, froze.

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Giveaway: A Yi's new novel (Bookworm lit fest special)

 

Those of you in Beijing will know we're in the middle of the Bookworm literary festival – two weeks of wordsmithery and ink hijinks. Look out for the Whisky and Writers event on Saturday 26th March at 8pm, which will pick up the bottle after the Anthill's Scotch and Stories boozefest last year, and where I'll be one of the writers reading a story. There have also been some great events showcasing Chinese writers, which is always what makes the festival special, from speed bookclubbing by the folk at Paper Republic to a panel with A Yi, who I've long thought is one of the most exciting authors in China today.

If you're not in Beijing, you can still feel a part of that conversation. A Yi's publisher One World is giving away five copies of his new novel in English, A Perfect Crime, to five Anthill readers based in the USA. All you need to do is write to colonyemails[at]gmail.com with your name and US postal address, and in the body of the email tell us what is your favourite book about China and why. The first five who get in touch will be sent a copy of A Yi's novel.

If you're curious to know more about A Yi read my Q&A with him in the LARB China blog. Also check out our top ten list of contemporary Chinese fiction for more inspiration for novels in translation.

That's all for now – regular posting will begin this time next week – and a big thanks to One World for this generous giveway. Now get reading, and hope to see some of you at Whisky and Writers! - Alec

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