fiction

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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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China Prep

New fiction from the China classroom - by Quincy Carroll

 

Ed: You might have heard of Quincy Carroll's foreign-teacher-in-China novel Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside, which I've just finished reading and enjoyed a lot. We're delighted to share this exclusive extract of his new novel, a work-in-progress also set in China ...

The first time you had come to China had been over spring break in 2003, and you and your classmates had spent the week visiting places like the Forbidden City, the Lama Temple, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall. Many of you had been lucky enough to have traveled outside of the U.S. before, but with the exception of another boy named Benjamin, you were the only one in your school who had ever been to Asia. Your mother and father had taken you and Abraham to Taiwan once in second grade to meet your father’s side of the family, but that had been so long ago and you had both been so young that it was no more than a memory—distant and hazy—by then.

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June Silkworms

A short story by Josh Stenberg

 

I wouldn’t call it exactly a conscious process, but you move to a new city and you think: who and when is it going to be, who will occasion the love affair, here? Who will pose the question?

If this is your attitude – and it is the only honest attitude – then the woman in question will materialise. You have to summon her out of the ether. Such persons, seemingly autonomous, are a result of your desiring them, of self-hypnosis. If you focus on this problem (and who ever really focuses on anything else?) at very least an obsession will develop. And why not? Obsessions pass the time just as well as actual lovemaking, which also has epidemiological drawbacks.

Cities are times and times are women. Women are cities and cities are times. I have lived in a number of cities, each of which has their official historical obsession, affair, question, concern. I grew up in Zhenjiang, a poorish Jiangnan city famed for its vinegar and the story where White Snake tries to drown the evil monk on the monastery hill. Yet I spent years at my classroom window, waiting for a succession of girls – whose very names fade before my groping mind – to wander beneath, to exhibit themselves to view. Life, catwalk, school, asylum. High school life was chaste, or self-indulgent; adolescent dreams were fed, almost innocently, by the one soft-porn film that a friend had brought back from a trip to Hong Kong. No snake appeared; not even a fox.

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On the Platform

A short story from Shanghai – by Michael Russam

 

He still caught himself getting lost, from time to time, in thoughts about the city that had been his home for a year now. About the way that Shanghai was so prettily decorated with its past and present and future but also, the more he thought about it, so muddied and polluted. Today wasn’t one of those days, though.

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Bird Talk

A story of old Hong Kong – by Rosalyn Shih

 

Gor Tsai’s first words were the grumblings of a policeman’s walkie talkie.

Peggy’s husband brought him home in a bell-shaped bamboo cage he balanced on his knees for the minibus ride from Yuen Po Market, only three stops away. The bird’s name meant “little brother”, because the Cantonese name for his kind was baat gor or “brother eight”.

Setting his bounty on the dining room table, the husband solemnly shushed his parents and his wife, waiting for the bird to speak.

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