Anthill book launch: 27 Nov (Beijing Bookworm)


Ants, countrymen, lend me your ears – the moment you didn't realise you've been waiting for has arrived.

The Anthill has been going strong for over three years, and now we're reaching a bit of a climax, with the publication of an anthology of our best stories, While We're Here. On Friday November 27th (from 7.30pm) we're having a big bash at the Beijing Bookworm to celebrate, and we hope the Beijingers among you can join us to drink a glass of mulled wine and have a flip through the book.


Halloween flash fiction


A quick note from our friends at That's Beijing:

If you haven’t yet picked up our October magazine, let it be known: the That’s Beijing flash horror fiction competition is open and accepting entries. We’re teaming up with the Capital M Literary Festival (which takes place Oct 30 – Nov 1) to put on a special Halloween event, so we’re looking for stories of to give us the chills.

Send us your story of 1,000 words or less to be in with a chance of winning.

Whether you opt for a traditional tales of ghosts and ghouls or a tense thriller, if your tale makes the final shortlist you’ll have a chance to read it out at the Capital M Literary Festival. The judging panel (featuring That’s Beijing Editor-in-Chief, Oscar Holland; writer, journalist and founder of the Anthill, Alec Ash; and more TBC) will then select and announce a winner at the event.

To enter, send your story to by Monday October 26. Make it a scary one.

The winning story will be published on the hill for Halloween, so get writing! Deadlines are, of course, the most terrifying horror of them all ...




We all know the legend of the 300 Spartan stories who fended off the godking Xerxes of Bad Prose. Clad in clean grammatical sandals and minimal adjectival leather, armed with the sharp blades of apt metaphor, they stymied the advance of the slave empire of RSS, and died martyrs to narrative in a news-obsessed world. And they had sexy abvs.

So forget 70 years after the defeat of Japan, even if in Beijing we're loving the blue skies fabricated for the occasion. Today we're celebrating 300 posts on the Anthill, since we launched in China just shy of three years ago. (Other anniversaries include ten years in China for fiction editor Tom Pellman, and seven years to the day since I first moved to Beijing.)

Week after next there will be a military parade on Tiananmen square in honour of our achievement. But until then here are six brave warriors from among the 300, which you might have missed before. They and others will also be collected in our anthology book, coming out at the end of the year from Earnshaw Books and with a big bash at the Beijing bookworm.

Lots of good new stuff in the pipeline in the coming months, including nonfiction by David Moser, Jeremiah Jenne, Jonathan Kos-Read and RFH, plus photography, fiction, poetry and translation. Sign up to the weekly email digest to not miss a beat, and share our Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for reading us! - Alec


Scotch & Stories: Anthill writers night


Those of you following the Anthill last year might remember our first storytelling night, Writers and Rum. We packed out Cuju bar in the hutongs (admittedly not difficult to pack out), got through nine stories and nine rums, and from what we can remember had an amazing time. This year we're doing it again, at the Beijing Bookworm on May 27th.

The night is in conjunction with the Bookworm's new Whisky Wednesdays and is sponsored by  the Beijing whisky shop Ai Whisky. We've got a fantastic line-up of six writers – reading non-fiction, confessionals, fiction and poetry – and each story will be hand-matched to a fine whisky by Anthony Tao, who runs Whisky Wednesdays and Beijing Cream. The price is 150RMB, including six whiskies, which comes in at 25RMB per scotch and is absolutely insane. Space is limited so if you want to reserve your spot email colonyemails[at] There are also non-drinking tickets available for 50RMB (40RMB for members) both in advance and at the door.


We're back! (redesign and announcements)


It’s no joke – the Anthill is back!

We all know April Fool’s day originated in China, but now it’s past noon you can take us seriously when we say we’re coming out of our long winter hibernation. I’ve been travelling and finishing a project, so it’s been kind of hectic. Now we’re up and running for a new season and a fresh start.

This year we’re tightening our focus, to find and publish original narratives about China that go beyond the news ticker. As such, we’re sunsetting the Chinese Tuesdays feature, after two years and 80 posts since it started in 2013 with crossposts from Sam Duncan (big thanks to Sam). Narrative non-fiction is still our first love, and we’re aiming to publish a new non-fiction sketch each week, on Fridays. There’ll also be some short stories (edited by Tom Pellman) and poetry (edited by Anthony Tao), plus photography and translation creeping in around the sides.

First, some exciting news and announcements:

Redesign   That’s right, we’ve got a new face. It’s lots of little changes – higher cheekbones here, a new font there – rather than any big ones, plus contributor profile pages (see the full list here) and categories. Huge thanks to my brother Thomas Ash (check out his meta-charity work at Charity Science) for patiently doing the redesign in Drupal. If you have any feedback, post a comment below.

Writers night   We had such a crazy good time at the first Anthill storytelling night last April, with the theme of Writers and Rum, that we’re doing it again this year. The provisional theme is “Scotch and Stories”, with a mix of writers and whiskies to sample, and it will likely be at the end of this month or beginning of May. Watch this space.

Anthology book   Looking back over the last two and a half years of posts at the Anthill, we realise we’ve published enough compelling stories to put them together between two covers for posterity. So we’re going to do it. How exactly that will work we’re still figuring out, and the anthology will only be out at the end of the year, possibly October in time for our third year anniversary.