Ashes for Ashes

A Chinese funeral – by Kim Willcocks


It was a shock to us all when Lao Lao, my Chinese grandmother-in-law, died. She was 88, which was, as we say in England, a good innings. But she had been so hale and hearty until the end that most of her family felt sure she would reach a hundred. My wife was very close to her as Lao Lao had basically brought her up while my wife’s busy parents worked.

Lao Lao’s life offers a glimpse at how much China has changed.


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.


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.


The Book of Changes

Twenty five years in Chinese jazz – by David Moser


Ed: This story is from the Anthill anthology book While We're Here, published today by Earnshaw Books. Buy the book on Amazon


“What do you miss most about the US?” asked my friend Chen Xin, pouring me another beer.

“Nothing,” I said. It was 1993, and I was living in Beijing, yet even when drunk I was never homesick for America.

“There must be something,” she said, licking the excess foam off my glass.



I'm Not a Communist, But I Play One on TV

Life and times of a token white guy – by Jonathan ‘Cao Cao’ Kos-Read


The guy with the world’s biggest dick was on Howard Stern once.

Everybody was fascinated. Who wouldn't be? His dick was 14 inches long, as thick as a baby's arm. And everyone had questions: could he get it all the way in? Had he ever fucked a guy? Did erections make him light-headed? Pressing, important burning questions. But all the guy wanted to talk about was his novel – a long thing about intergenerational conflict and the struggle between morality and family and … or you know, something. Nobody was listening. They just wanted to know about his dick.

And honestly, I often feel the same way. I have a job that people think is interesting – both in an amusing way, but also as an odd sideways window into Chinese culture.

I play white guys in Chinese movies.