Alec Ash

Alec Ash is a writer in Beijing, and founding editor of the Anthill. His book Wish Lanterns (Picador, 2016) is available at the Beijing Bookworm

Posts by Alec Ash

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Finding my Way

Revelations from a Taoist mystic

 

The Taoist priest looked at me askance and guessed correctly that I was British.

I was in his temple three days before the Chinese new year, following an artist I was writing about who was there to light incense and drop money into the collection box for good luck in the year ahead. The red-faced deity guarding the box stroked his metre-long beard and accepted the bribe.

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The Good Earth

Pearl Buck, a country wedding, and how to cook pig guts

 

This spring festival, I read Pearl Buck’s 1931 novel The Good Earth in the perfect location – the farmlands of Anhui, where the book is set. (Read my LARB co-blogger Maura Cunningham’s take on the book here.)

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The spring migration

Two panoramas from spring festival travels

 

Two landscapes, courtesy of the iPhone's "panorama" function.

One is a stretching maize field in Anhui province, among China's poorest and most historic rural settings. To the left, one of the many graves that pepper the land, mounds of earth around which the newly budding crops circle respectfully. Straight ahead, almost too low to be visible, a hamlet of brick houses and dirty courtyards filled with waddling ducks and barking dogs.

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The artist and the factory

A Q&A with a fake Foxconn worker

 

On October 9th 2012, 30 year old Li Liao reported for his first day’s work at a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, southern China. The behemothian electronics contract manufacturer, which makes our iPhones, Kindles and Wiis, provides a livelihood for hundreds of thousands of poor Chinese. It was also the centre of controversy after a spate of worker suicides in 2010.

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Tales from the hutong

Three vignettes from old Beijing in midwinter

 

In the two months I have lived at no. 19 Xiguan hutong (between the mahjong hall and public toilets, past the sex shop and suspiciously located massage parlour next door), I have come to know the school kid who plays saxophone in the back of a cycle rickshaw, the market man who sells pak choi at a discount when he thinks it’s ugly-looking, and the army of fat cats who mobilise on the low rooftops at dusk.

Hutong life keeps giving. Here are three vignettes from it.

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