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Portrait of a Beijinger: Woman of Tai Chi (video)

 

Ed: After a long winter hibernation, the Anthill returns in time for spring. We hit a high note at the end of last year with the publication of our anthology book While We're Here, paper copies of which are now available internationally on Amazon as well as on Kindle. Now we have a fresh batch of stories lined up (and my own book is published in June). We're going to try to hit one new nonfiction or fiction narrative at the end of each week, alongside extra poetry, photography and bonuses. In the end, the Anthill is a labour of love around the edges of our other work, and there is only so much time we can put into it. But so long as there are writers with stories to share, we'll be a platform for it and keep bringing you good reads, while we're here. Do spread the love, share and submit.

We're kicking off with a bang, with this fourth and final instalment in "Portrait of a Beijinger", a short documentary series for the Anthill by Tom Fearon and Abel Blanco who find ordinary Beijingers with extraordinary stories. This video profiles Lü Yan, a tai chi master who went to martial arts academy with Jet Li. The video is on Youku for those of you shouting at your VPN during the NPC along with the rest of us, and also on Vimeo as embedded below, along with Tom’s write-up of Lü Yan's story.

 

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While We're Here (in hibernation)

 

From 2012 the Anthill has published stories from China to bring this quicksilver and wonderfully various country to life. Since then we've put out 330 posts, hosted three events and been shortlisted for an award, with over a hundred writers in the colony and 11,000 monthly unique visitors. Now we also have an anthology, While We're Here, available on Kindle (print edition on Amazon in Feb), in the Beijing Bookworm and Garden Books in Shanghai, or from the publisher. (All proceeds to charity.)

We're not going anywhere, and will be bringing you more new and surprising narratives in 2016, including from a laowai rapper in Chengdu and a detention cell in Datong. But for now we're in hibernation this winter, while Tom and I focus on a couple of other things. We'll be back in March, and will try to post reasonably regularly. My own book comes out in the summer, and more on that later.

If you want to join the colony and publish your own story here, submit! We're looking for narrative non-fiction, fiction, poetry, photography and translation (crossposts welcome). For more info check out our submission guidelines, and ideally please aim to submit before Feb 29.

For the time being we're leaving you with links to ten of the best stories from this last year, in case you missed them. Happy reading, and happy 2016.

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Hutong Neighbours

The unbearable lightness of Beijing – by Alec Ash

 

Mrs Wang the widow has lived on Xiguan Hutong for thirty-five years. She's an old Beijinger, born in 1951, and has been within a cabbage's throw of the same vegetable market for most of her life. Her childhood home was in Daxing Hutong, in the same block; her primary school was in Fuxue Hutong, two alleys down; her early teens were in Nanluoguxiang, back when it was just another residential ginnel. In 1980 she married a man who owned property in Xiguan Hutong (reinstated after the Cultural Revolution ended). She worked in a small factory five minutes walk away, making musical instruments from flutes to French horns. When her husband died four years ago, her son moved in with his Mongolian wife. Mrs Wang took a bedroom at the back to live out her retirement watching Chinese soaps, coddling her infant grandson and complaining about how her daughter-in-law complains about her.

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Old Chokey Christmas

Winter in Beijing – festive verse by Kaiser Kuo

 

Ed: This poem appears in While We're Here, our anthology published this month by Earnshaw Books. Listen to editors Alec Ash and Tom Pellman talk to Kaiser Kuo about the Anthill, the book and China writing on this week's Sinica podcast

 

In winter all’s still, and the sun’s scanty rays

Filter downward in pewter and silvery grays.

I find myself strolling down memory hutong

To Beijing in winters when life was more putong.

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Beijing in Black and White

Life in a frame – photography by Siok Siok Tan

 

Ed: We're proud to present a selection of a dozen photographs by the very talented Siok Siok Tan, a Beijing resident who took a picture of hutong life every day for a year. Check out her Instagram and her website for much more like this, and she will release a photography book in spring 2016

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