Luhai Liang

Luhai Liang is a freelance writer in Beijing. Follow him on Twitter here

Posts by Luhai Liang

Great Expectations

The literary dream of Beijing – by Lu-Hai Liang


When you're young and ambitious, keen on literary adventure, the idea of moving to a new country and becoming a writer is hugely romantic. You may not be the next Hemingway or Graham Greene, but the ghosts of those greats – men who drank, chased women and saw their art as their masculine fixation – leave long seductive shadows.

Beijing is not London or Tokyo, Tangier or Rome. It doesn't have the transparent allure of LA or the colourful chaos of Mexico City. And it sure as hell ain't Paris. It doesn't look beautiful in the rain and the architecture lacks all grace and subtlety. Beijing is unrelenting in its grayness, and filled with poor decisions about infrastructure and basic city planning. It’s a city so mired in reality that any charm pours straight into its drains, which are too few and badly designed. Yet journalists and writers have flocked here. Why?

I was born in the southern city of Guilin in 1989. Before I was born, but after I was conceived, my father swam from China to Hong Kong. Well, almost swam there. He didn't quite make it. He was picked up by Hong Kong water police after nine hours in the water, trying to reach the fabled British colony. If you want to read more about this family history, you can find it here. Suffice to say politics was involved in his decision to escape China. I moved to England, and met my father for the first time when I was five. At the age of twenty three, I reversed his journey and moved from Britain back to China.


My Grandmother's Grandmother

Piecing together the past through memory – by Luhai Liang


On the balcony, where she keeps the livestock, my grandmother is methodically murdering a duck. In her left hand she grabs the duck's serpentine neck, shiny white in the sun, in a hard grip. With her other hand she reaches for a dull knife and cuts the duck's throat. I watch the duck as it lays in a large plastic bowl, its eyes in passive shock, while my grandmother pours hot water onto its body to soften the skin, ready for plucking.