Short Stories from Urban China
Ed.s Liu Ding, Carol Yinghua Lu & Ra Page
978-1905583461 | 190558346X
£9.99 or £7.75 if you buy online now.
**Selected as one of the Financial Times Best Books of 2012**
- View that here
'Shi Cheng is a sort of mind map of both modern China, and also of what it’s like to be human.'
- Asian Books Blog
- Hong Kong
AUTHORS: Jie Chen
, Han Dong
, Diao Dou
, Cau Kou
, Ding Liying
, Ho Sin Tung
, Yi Sha
, Zhu Wen
, Xu Zechen
and Zhang Zhihao
‘Everyone in the whole country knew this place was full of money, you only had to bend down and pick it up; everyone in the whole country also knew that opportunity here was like bird shit – while you weren’t looking it would spatter on your head and make you rich…'
To the West, China may appear an unstoppable economic unity, a single high-performing whole, but for the inhabitants of this vast, complex and contradictory nation, it is the cities that hold the secret to such economic success. From the affluent, Westernised Hong Kong to the ice-cold Harbin in the north, from the Islamic quarters of Xi’an to the manufacturing powerhouse of Guangzhou - China’s cities thrum with promise and aspiration, playing host to the myriad hopes, frustrations and tensions
that define China today.
The stories in this anthology offer snapshots of ten such cities, taking in as many different types of inhabitant. Here we meet the lowly Beijing mechanic lovingly piecing together his first car from scrap metal, somnambulant commuters at a Nanjing bus-stop refusing to acknowledge the presence of a dead body just metres away, or Shenyang intellectuals conducting a letter-writing campaign on the moral welfare of their city. The challenges depicted in these stories are uniquely Chinese, but the energy and ingenuity with which their authors approach them is something readers everywhere can marvel at.
A young woman races across Chengdu one evening to stop her best friend from murdering her cheating husband...
A student staying with his friend's family in Harbin becomes obsessed with a girl at a train station who he doesn't even know...
A disillusioned newspaper columnist in Shanghai receives a disturbing phone call one night from a distressed housewife...
'These stories tell us how the lives of these cities and citizens, or peasants-turned-citizens, are being tempered. The stories seem to say that one has to go through the fires of hell to reach some different stage of existence.'
- The Independent
'On balance, [the editors] perform a valuable service in making these rich, varied and rewarding stories known to a western audience, for all that the politics of cultural engagement remain fraught.'
- Financial Times
'This collection is a lively primer.... an essential purchase.'
- Dinesh Allirajah in Real Time Short Stories
About the Authors
is a graduate of the Sichuan Normal University, and is a former cultural journalist. A native of Chengdu, she has written for the Chengdu Evening News, and since 1995, for papers such as Southern Metropolis Daily, the Beijing Morning Post and the Nanfang Daily. Her novels are extremely popular and include Burgundy Ice Blue
, which has been adapted into a TV series, and I Love You, Bye.
Born in 1960 in Shenyang in Liaoning Province, Diao Dou is currently editor of Contemporary Review. A graduate of the University of Broadcasting in Beijing, he worked as a journalist before turning to fiction. Having established himself with a collection of poems, he has since turned to short stories and novels.
Having been brought up in the countryside (owing to his parents being sent there during the Cultural Revolution), Han Dong taught Western Philosophy at a small college for some years, before becoming a full-time writer. Dong has been well-known since the 1980s as one of China’s most important avant-garde poets and is now increasingly influential as an essayist, short story writer and novelist. Han’s works include collections of poetry, essays, short stories, novellas, and four full-length novels. His novel Banished! won the Independent Chinese Language Media Novel Prize in 2003, and was longlisted for the Man Asia Literary Prize when translated.
Cao Kou was born in Nanjing in 1977. He is renowned for a simple and direct style of writing, plainly describing strange situations with far-reaching implications. Hailed as one of the most talented young contemporary authors, he has published several collections of short stories, including Fuck, Like the Dead, and More and More. He’s also published works on the life of Saddam Hussein and the history of sexuality in China.
Born in 1966 in Shanghai, Ding Liying is one of a new generation of Chinese women writers. She is acclaimed for the careful crafting of stories that address the lives of ordinary urban women and the underlying tensions in their lives. Best known for her short stories and essays, she is also a lyric poet and most recently a translator of the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. She was awarded the Anne Kao Poetry Prize in 1999.
Ho Sin Tung was born in Hong Kong in 1986 and graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong with a Fine Arts degree in 2008. Ho is now a full-time artist based in Hong Kong, and occasionally writes for newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and Taipei. Visit: http://hosintung.com
Zhu Wen was born in Fujian Province in 1967 and spent his childhood in Jiangsu. After graduating from Dongnan University with a degree in engineering, he worked for five years in a thermal power plant. He began publishing his poetry in 1989, and soon became associated with the Nanjing-based group of ‘Tamen’ poets, a loose affiliation that includes Han Dong, Xiao Wei and Li Hongqi, among others. He eventually left his day job to become a full-time writer. He has published six collections of novellas and short stories, two collections of poetry and one novel. He first gained fame with his 1995 short story collection I Love Dollars (published by Penguin in 2010). He is also an accomplished screenwriter and director: his directorial debut Seafood won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Venice Film Festival, and his second film South of the Clouds was awarded the NETPAC Prize at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival.
Yi Sha was born Wu Wenjian in Chengdu in 1966. He graduated from Beijing Normal University in 1989 with a major in Chinese and is currently lecturing at the Xi’an International Studies University. His poetry collections include Starve the Poets!, The Bastard’s Songs, I Finally Understood Your Rejection, Out-of-Body Experiences, and Bedwetting. His essay collections include Leading a Life of Debauchery by Force, Shameless are the Ignorant, and Morning Bell and Evening Drum. His short story collections include A Bliss Beyond the Ordinary and Whoever Hurts, Knows. His novels include The Gold in the Sky and Bewildered.
Xu Zechen was born in 1978 in Jiangsu Province, and obtained a Masters degree in Chinese literature at Peking University. He is currently editor at People’s Literature magazine. Despite this pedigree, Xu’s fiction is focused primarily on China’s less-fortunate social classes – peddlers of pirated DVDs, migrant workers – and his spare, realist style lends some wry humour to their struggles. Xu has published three novels, Midnight’s Door, Night Train and Heaven on Earth, and a collection of short stories entitled How Geese Fly up to Heaven. He has won several prizes within China for new and promising writers, and is generally considered one of the burgeoning new stars of China’s literary scene.
Zhang Zhihao was born in the autumn of 1965 in Jingmen, Hubei Province, and now lives in Wuhan. He was chief editor of the large poetry volume Poems of the Han. His principal works include the poetry collections, Suffering from Praise, Animal Heart and The Warmth of Collision, the short fiction collection, Going to See the People in the Zoo, and the novels, Trying to Coexist with Life, The Celestial Construction Team and Where the Water Ends. His award-winning work has been included in several annual anthologies.
About the Translators
Eric Abrahamsen has lived in Beijing since 2001, when he studied Chinese at the Central University for Nationalities. He is a literary translator and publishing consultant, and one of the founders of Paper-Republic.org, a website promoting Chinese literature abroad. He is the recipient of PEN and NEA translation grants, and most recently translated Wang Xiaofang’s novel Notes of a Civil Servant for Penguin.
Yu Yan Chen is a poet and translator based in New York. Her poetry collection Small Hours was published by the New York Quarterly in 2011. She specialises in translating contemporary Chinese fiction and poetry into English.
Nicky Harman’s translations include Zhang Ling’s prizewinning novel Gold Mountain Blues, Xinran’s Message from Unknown Chinese Mothers, and Xinran’s China Witness (with Esther Tyldesley and Julia Lovell). She is active on the literary website, Paper-Republic.org, and has been Translator-in-Residence at the Free Word Centre, London. She has also recently edited A Phone Call from Dalian(Zephyr Press), a selection of translated poems by Han Dong.
Paul Harris studied Chinese at Oxford University in the 1960s. He then spent 35 years as a career translator, working for a major UK financial institution and, more recently, as a freelancer. He is now retired and lives in London, but makes regular visits to China.
Rachel Henson’s formative experiences in Chinese include training in the Woman Warrior Role in Beijing and touring a cabaret show around Chinese cities. She has written Chinese teaching materials for UK universities and worked on Chinese arts projects for the British Council, the Royal Court Theatre and the British Museum.
Brendan O’Kane lives in Beijing, where he works as a freelance writer and translator. He’s also one of the hosts for Popup Chinese, a Chinese-learning podcast, reviews of which have described him as ‘only slightly annoying.'
Julia Lovell teaches modern Chinese history at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of The Politics of Cultural Capital: China’s Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature, The Great Wall: China Against the World and The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China. Her many translations of modern Chinese fiction include Han Shaogong’s A Dictionary of Maqiao, Zhu Wen’s I Love Dollars, and Lu Xun’s The Real Story of Ah-Q, and Other Tales of China.
Petula Parris-Huang has translated a number of short stories from Chinese. She previously served as an in-house translator to the Taiwanese government and a lecturer in translation at the University of Bath. Petula holds an MA in Interpreting and Translating and a BA in Chinese with Russian.
Josh Stenberg has translated two collections of Su Tong’s shorter fiction, Madwoman on the Bridge and Other Stories (2008) and Tattoo: Three Novellas (2010). He is a Lecturer at Nanjing Normal University and a PhD candidate in Chinese Theatre at Nanjing University.
Supported by the Confucius Instiutute at the University of Manchester
BRITISH LIBRARY - WED 18 APR
Shi Cheng: City Stories from China
Authors Han Dong and Xu Zechen read their stories from Comma's new city-themed anthology, Shi Cheng, and discuss the importance of short story writing and the challenges of the translation process with translators Julia Lovell and Nicky Harman.
Han Dong was born in Nanjing, 1961. Han Dong's parents were banished to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, taking him with them. When the Cultural Revolution ended, he studied philosophy at Shandong University, graduating in 1982, and subsequently taught philosophy in Xi'an and Nanjing, finally relinquishing teaching in 1993. Han Dong began writing in 1980, and has been a major player on the modern Chinese literary scene since the 1990s. He is well-known as one of China's most important avant-garde poets, and is becoming increasingly influential as an essayist, short story writer and novelist.
Xu Zechen has published three novels, Midnight's Door, Night Train and Heaven on Earth, and a collection of short stories entitled How Geese Fly up to Heaven. He has won several prizes within China for new and promising writers, and is generally considered one of the burgeoning new stars of China's literary scene.
Conference Centre, British Library, St Pancras, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB.
6.30pm to 8pm.
Tickets £7.50, £5 concessions.
In association with the British Council and The Confucius Institute at the University of Manchester.
More info here
MANCHESTER - THU 19 APR
Shi Cheng Manchester Launch with Han Dong
In conversation with literary translator Nicky Harman.
To mark the publication of Shi Cheng: Short Stories from Urban China - the Confucius Institute and Comma Press are delighted to host an evening with one of the key figures in contemporary Chinese literature.
Han Dong was born in Nanjing in 1961, studied at Shandong University, and subsequently taught philosophy in Xi'an and Nanjing. He began writing in 1980, and has been a major player on the modern Chinese literary scene since the 1990s, as a poet and editor of the magazine, Them. He is well-known as one of China's most important avant-garde poets, and is becoming increasingly influential as an essayist, short story writer and novelist.
Venue: The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester, M1 5BY.
Supported by the Confucius Institute at the University of Manchester, and the British Council.
More info here
With the support of the Confucius Institute at the University of Manchester.
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