A man between two worlds – new fiction by George Gao



Jackson and his grandmother sat at the teahouse on the city wall overlooking the river moat. An old peddler bundled in a wool jacket walked by with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He had a bamboo stick slung across his shoulders. There was a basket on each side, both filled with candy. “Ma Ya Tang,” he said, smirking at the two of them. “Five kuai each.”

Grandma Li waved the man away. She turned to Jackson and said, “When your mother was little, she used to love that stuff. But they were terrible for her teeth.”

“Yea?” said Jackson. He refilled his teacup and took a sip. He liked hearing about his mother’s childhood in Suzhou. Jackson was born in this city, though he left for the U.S. at age five. He often wondered what his life would be like if he had grown up here, instead of in the small suburb of Winslow, New Jersey.



An unexpected passenger – flash fiction by William Dyke


Mr. Wang woke at dawn to eat congee and fruit. He filled his tea mug and said goodbye to his wife before walking to the elevator. They lived on the 13th floor of an apartment that the government had given them after being displaced from their inner city hutong.

The apartment was on the outskirts of Beijing. It wasn’t especially nice, but it was his own. People like Mr. Wang didn’t normally own apartments. In the story of Mr. Wang’s life, he considered it a win on the whole.

Mr. Wang worked as a taxi driver, even though he didn’t have to. Years of steady work and a healthy pension ensured there would be food on the table plus some leftover. But ever since his son had moved out, he found himself lonely. He loved his wife but one person wasn’t enough to keep conversation going.


Gilded Age

Speculative fiction from Shanghai – by Isaac Beech


She came to China in 2020, at the spring of a new nation. After college, a liberal arts sanatorium for privileged outrage during America's mad years, she dithered in a city internship for a few months before hopping the Pacific after Christmas in a half thought-out rebellion against her family's cloying helpfulness. New year's in Bangkok faded into hangovers in Angor Watt and a misjudged café-venture in Phnom Penh with a girl she met in a youth hostel. From there she traced the curve of the banana pancake trail up the coast of Vietnam, until South East Asia gave way to the country she had been avoiding and gravitating towards all along.

Haijing, this young capital of the nation's newest incarnation, was still adjusting to its new political status.



A true patriot – fiction by Tim Rinaldi


The residents – they never see me. No one does. Through the murky glass they see the cigarette smoke curling around the blue uniform in the circular booth, but they never see me. I see everything. The monkey boy hair, the degenerate piercings, the garish tattoos. I hear it, too. The music they play, so loud, so crazy, so many sounds that do not sound like music.

“Shushu, you cannot understand,” my niece Xiaorong says. “It is too different from when you were young in Shandong. Do you even know how to dance to the Little Apple Song?”

These days people think you’re some kind of idiot if you’ve never used the Internet before. It is true that I do not participate in these activities like she and her clever friends from shifandaxue do. I would not wish to, even if I could.


Don't Blame Ling Ling

Flash fiction by Eric Allen


My new girlfriend Ling Ling works at the largest condom factory in the world.

Naturally, she was a bit embarrassed to tell me at first. But after a few weeks of saying she worked at some packaging factory she sort of laid it on me. I was shocked. My girlfriend makes condoms. I couldn’t believe it. I never thought I would have a girlfriend that made condoms for a living.

This all might have sounded strange once, but six months ago I moved to one of those boom cities on the shores of Southern China where everything rushes along in the haze of progress. I guess I went to China to find myself. Well, I found Ling Ling instead. She’s beautiful. Skin that seems to be gently graced with the tanned thumb of God.