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.


Poem: Hamburgers

A satirical poem by Arthur Meursault


Ed: This is a parody of Calvin Trillin’s poem about Chinese food Have They Run Out Of Provinces Yet?, which is also funny and worth reading. Arthur’s poem looks at it from the Chinese perspective …


Have they run out of hamburgers yet?

Or is it as endless as their debt?

McDonalds came with Big Macs and fries,

Soon even Zhengzhou had a franchise.

Next came along old Colonel Sanders,

Pushed new stores through Party back-handers.


Hoop Dreams

A photo essay by Lauren Teixeira


If I had not grasped the insane love of basketball among Chinese boys before I came to China, I was aware of it by the end of teaching my first English class. During the obligatory introduction session my male students, one after the other, told me that their hobbies were “basketball and computer games”. But really, I needed only consult my roster. Over the course of one year in Nanjing, I taught approximately five Kobes, two Bryants, three Derrick Roses, two Peirces, a Wade and an Iverson.

Despite the widespread passion for the game, which is played in most Chinese schools, kids have little chance to enjoy it in their free time. It broke my heart to see how stressed out my students were, studying from sunrise to sundown. This basketball tournament was the first time I had seen them truly excited. I started to bring my camera to their daily twenty-minute lunchtime matches. This is how I want to remember my students – cheering, captivated, momentarily forgetful of schoolwork, shooting for the hoop.


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.


Whisky and Writers

A boozy storytelling night in Beijing


The Anthill's regular event in the 10th Beijing Bookworm literary festival was an evening of drinking and storytelling called 'Whisky and Writers', where five writers read five stories, paired with five whiskies. This is the third such annual gathering, after Writers and Rum in 2014 and Scotch and Stories in 2015 (click through to listen to the audio from both). I read from my chapter in our anthology book While We're Here, and the other readers were all writers in town for the festival, with stories including Hong Kong cartoonist Larry Feign on learning Chinese, and Mexican novelist Valeria Luiselli on, erm, morning glory. It was a sold-out and drunken night – each story less articulate than the last as we got through our drinks – and now we're pleased to share the video of it for those who weren't there.