Paper Republic: Chinese Literature Matters

Read Paper Republic

Read Paper Republic is a free online publication initiative for readers who wonder what new Chinese fiction in English translation has to offer and would like to dip a toe in the water. The stories are are organized into series:

Read Paper Republic – Dispatches Series Two

Our second series of non-fiction from all corners of China has just launched. Our second series of creative non-fiction from China includes accounts of fortune-tellers, corpse preservers and law schools. Our thanks, as ever, go to our collaborators One-Way Street Magazine (单读) and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ China Channel for making this project possible.

Read Paper Republic – Dispatches Series One

A selection of non-fiction pieces chosen from OWMagazine (单读) in a three-way collaboration between Paper Republic, OWMagazine, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ China Channel. Series One in 2018 included some of our favourite writers as well as some new voices, from different corners of China.

Read Paper Republic – Bare Branches

November 11th was originally a day for singletons in China to either bemoan or celebrate their unattached status, but is increasingly an excuse for unbridled consumerism. In 2017 Paper Republic marked the occasion with a new run of four free-to-view short stories about love, longing, and loneliness. We were delighted to work with Michelle Deeter as our managing editor for the series, which we called “Bare Branches” (a literal translation of the Chinese name for the occasion, 光棍节).

Read Paper Republic – Afterlives

A mini-series of six stories in which death is merely the beginning of the story.

Read Paper Republic – the first campaign

Between 18th June 2015 and 16th伦理剧 June 2016, we published a complete, free-to-view short story, essay or poem by a contemporary Chinese writer every week. We would like to thank all the writers who gave us permission to publish their work, the translators who donated their translations, and the Paper Republic team who not only edited every story, essay and poem but also spent hours promoting the campaign around the world.

Download a full table of contents (with links to each story) as a PDF.

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The Nursing Home Rightist

by Yuan Ling, translated by Jack Hargreaves Oct 11, 2019

袁凌: 《敬老院的右派

伦理剧I alight at Beigao bus station and cut through the tunnel under the airport expressway. Tractors and tricycle carts trundle past me beneath the low ceiling – entirely another world to the one atop the bridge.

I cross a trash-strewn area and continue alongside the dry and scorch marked grass verge. I can see the pair of stone lions that guard the nursing home gate. A kiosk sits right inside as a reminder for visitors to buy something.

The cle...

Silent Children | Read Paper Republic Series: China Dispatches 2 |

by Yuan Ling, translated by Jack Hargreaves Oct 4, 2019

袁凌: 《沉默的孩子

伦理剧One weekend while in Shanghai, I accompany some volunteers to Red Buds Foster Home for Children in the suburban Baoshan District.

Red Buds is in an old two-storey building surrounded by an iron fence. I shout through the railings for someone to open the gate and am greeted by a big beaming smile from the middle-aged man who comes to let us in. He’s great, the head of our group, Donkey explains – very welcoming whenever he sees us.

There’s some...

Mo Yan's Country | Read Paper Republic Series: China Dispatches 2 |

by Wei Yi, translated by Jiang Chenxin Aug 5, 2019

卫毅: 《莫言的国

On the afternoon of 12 October 2012, Mo Yan appeared at a press conference in a hotel meeting room that has since become famous worldwide. The hotel was in Gaomi, Mo Yan’s hometown, a small city in Shandong province in northeast China. Mo Yan was still wearing the same lilac dress shirt he’d been wearing the night before. He began by fielding two questions from reporters. Most of what he said quickly appeared online and disappeared just as qui...

March on Beijing - The Picun Writers' Group Part 2 | Read Paper Republic Series: China Dispatches 2 |

by Guo Fulai, Li Ruo, Ma Dayong and Xu Liangyuan, translated by Jeremy Tiang Jun 28, 2019

郭福来李若马大勇徐良园: 《皮村作品组:第二

The Workshop Mouse by Guo Fulai

I’ve been working in Picun, Beijing for almost half a year now, and my most vivid memory is of the mice we share our workspace with.

伦理剧Our main task was making counters and metal racks for an events company. On a regular day, more than ten of us were squashed into a not-particularly-large workroom. Outside stood two rows of tall, broad poplars. Each time a breeze blew, every single leaf seemed to wave at passers-b...

March on Beijing - The Picun Writers Group Part 1 | Read Paper Republic Series: China Dispatches 2 |

by Weichen, Chen Diqiao and Wan Huashan, translated by Jeremy Tiang Jun 21, 2019

微尘陈迪桥万华山: 《皮村作品组:第一

Introduction by Wu Qi, editor of One-Way Street Magazine

A few years ago, the Picun Writers’ Group caught the attention of Chinese society and the wider world of letters. This was not simply because of their social status – they are not writers in the traditional sense – but because of their output itself, which comes closer to capturing realities than the work of many professional writers. Their words cut straight to the heart of our times, a...

Lessons in the Law | Read Paper Republic Series: China Dispatches 2 |

by Xie Ding, translated by Natascha Bruce May 31, 2019

谢丁: 《一堂法学课

Confucius had three thousand disciples, seventy-two of them truly masterful scholars. Zhao claimed the same was true of his classes: 2.4 percent were masterful scholars. 'They came to class with fire in their eyes,' he said. 'You could tell from a face, just from the expression – that one was going to get it. And from then on, that was the one you were teaching to.'

伦理剧In fall 2003, around midday every Wednesday, I used to bike from the Wan L...

Searching for Bodies | Read Paper Republic Series: China Dispatches 2 |

by Ma Jinyu, translated by Kate Costello Apr 18, 2019

马金瑜: 《寻找殓尸人

Under the moonlight, it seemed like they were all sleeping.

On October 11th, the village hosted a big show. This was always the most lively time of year in the village. Stalls selling mutton soup, beef meatballs, oil-cakes, and hand-shaved noodles crowded around the stage. The steam swirled and the oil-cakes bubbled in their pot, the mutton soup at a rolling boil. The drums of the opening scene pulled at the villagers’ heartstrings, as the sou...

A Fortuneteller in a Modern Metropolis | Read Paper Republic Series: China Dispatches 2 |

by Liang Hong, translated by Michael Day Mar 13, 2019

梁鸿: 《现代都市里的算命人

Xian Yi wears brown-framed glasses and a permanent smile, holding a strand of prayer beads in his hand. While he talks, eats, and walks, the beads slip silently through his fingers. Something in the arch of his brow exudes peace. I am curious, sensing in him something artificial, something affected, yet his tranquil expression can’t be a put-on.

It seems unbelievable, but Xian Yi is a fortuneteller.

I spent my first two days in Nanyang at the ...

Small Town | Read Paper Republic Series: China Dispatches |

by Li Jingrui, translated by Helen Wang Oct 11, 2018

李静睿: 《小城


伦理剧You can find the same kind of park in every small town. They’re all identical: a park with a small lake covered in water lilies, a few wooden boats that nobody rows tied to the so-called jetty, bright yellow duck-shaped motorised boats puttering around in the middle of the water. The weeping willows trail their branches as they do in poems, though their leaves are grey with dust, except in late March, when the new growth slowly unfurls, and ...

Letter to My Mother | Read Paper Republic Series: China Dispatches |

by Ou Ning, translated by Nicky Harman Oct 4, 2018

欧宁: 《致母亲书

伦理剧I am in Baan Mae village, Sanpatong County, Chiangmai, Thailand. The sun has just gone down and night is drawing in. Darkness seeps across the rice fields, the bamboo forests, the banana palms and rape flowers, and as my friends light the lanterns, I feel a light breeze. I’m thinking of you, Mum, in the bitter cold of a Beijing winter, and thinking too, of our home. Xialiu, the village in Guangdong, where, just like here, smoke from kitchen...

The Spices of Life | Read Paper Republic Series: China Dispatches |

by Yan Ge, translated by Poppy Toland Sep 27, 2018

颜歌: 《平乐事


Before Pi County New Town was built, the county town, Pitong, used to be so small it was like a yeerba – a sticky-rice bun filled with minced pork and greens – with all the townspeople squashed together snug but not stifled, knowing each other thoroughly, intimately. At that time, successful people were described in the town as, “Folk who go out onto the street without a single penny on them and walk fast.”

This may sound l...

Three Sketches of Peter Hessler | Read Paper Republic Series: China Dispatches |

by Wu Qi, translated by Luisetta Mudie Sep 20, 2018

吴琦: 《三个关于何伟的写作练习

Hessler’s here. He has had three books published in China since 2011, and this is his first major meet-and-greet session with his readers here. Some say he’s the voice of the proletariat; the author of a Little Red Book for a new era. Put bluntly, more than just admiring the American author, Chinese people worship Hessler. Carrying English-language editions, traditional- and simplified-character editions – as if bring...

Metro Line Five | blue collar | contemporary | gender: feminist | Read Paper Republic Series: Bare Branches |

by Wu Jun, translated by Lucy Craig-McQuaide Nov 30, 2017

吴君: 《地铁5号线

Shi Yu changed into a pink slip then lay down on the massage table. She hadn’t seen Zhu Xiyan this time. When she closed her eyes, the beauty treatment finally began. Just as the beautician was preparing the massage oil, Shi Yu felt a vibration on her right, followed by a song wafting out.

“Gazing at the rising moon…” Shi Yu rushed to answer the phone before the moon could reach its peak. It was the Environmental Protection Society. Sh...

Saint Marie | home life | international | school life | Read Paper Republic Series: Bare Branches |

by Da Si, translated by Caroline Mason Nov 23, 2017

大斯: 《超级玛丽

伦理剧I didn’t get on with my landlady. Why? Because she was too nice. Perhaps I should explain.

伦理剧The morning light was pouring through the window into my bedroom and the lamps in the flat were blazing brightly, but my heart was a solid black, like an abruptly extinguished cigarette. Out late the night before, I’d stayed over at a friend’s place, and when I got home early that morning, I found I’d been burgled.

It took the polic...

Convince Me | animals | romance | science and technology | Read Paper Republic Series: Bare Branches |

by Jiang Yitan, translated by Alexander Clifford Nov 16, 2017

蒋一谈: 《说服

There were three of us in the lab, and our goal was to extend the life of white mice. To be more precise, we were researching the flaws in the DNA of each mouse, and finding ways to repair them. Ultimately, we hoped to find the secret to giving mus musculus a longer lifespan. We would selectively breed them, observe them over the reproductive cycle, their behaviour and their growth, and test whether the next generation came out a little ...

Forty-Nine Degrees | contemporary | romance | Read Paper Republic Series: Bare Branches |

by Song Aman, translated by Michelle Deeter Nov 9, 2017

宋阿曼: 《四十九度

伦理剧She sat in a taxi, stuck on the main road in the Old Town district. White lines of paint clearly marked six lanes of traffic, but none of them were going anywhere. The road signs reflected the harsh rays of the sun, glowing in every color of the spectrum. The trees on either side of the road offered scant circles of shade as the midday sun shone directly on their roots, their moisture-deprived leaves drooping like the lolling tongue of a...

Dad Your Name is Field-Keeper | surrealist |

by Sun Yisheng, translated by Nicky Harman Feb 4, 2017

孙一圣: 《爸你的名字叫保田

I was this old before I remembered my father. Before, I didn’t know his name and had no memory of him. My mother never told me. In any case, she’s dead now. As she lay dying, I sat at her bed–side, tugging on her withered hand. The moonlight fell on her face and I really wanted her to tell me about stuff that happened outside the window. But until her last breath, she just kept repeating, “I’m going to die.” And then she did, looking as ...

The Path to Freedom | dystopian fiction | multigenerational | surrealist | Read Paper Republic Series: Afterlives |

by Tang Fei, translated by Xueting Christine Ni Dec 1, 2016

糖匪: 《自由之路

“Imagining the worst tomorrow makes me happy.
The gloom of the future lights my path.”

伦理剧The children’s laughter penetrated the walls. They were playing in the garden downstairs. I never opened the curtains. For the last few decades, since Grandmother moved here, the windows had been blocked up. The curtains, however, still hung in place, as though to remind us that there had once been a window.

Other sounds came through from outsi...

Two Young Women From Fuyang | Cultural Revolution | military | Read Paper Republic Series: Afterlives |

by Mai Jia, translated by Yu Yan Chen Nov 24, 2016

麦家: 《两位富阳姑娘

In the early winter of 1971, our army was looking for new recruits in Fuyang, Zhejiang Province. Although an intake of 120 was planned, the actual number ended up being 128. Our Chief of Staff assigned this temporary quota over the phone, adding eight extra young women who were supposed to fill the phone operator posts.

Our rules required all new recruits to undergo physical and political review upon arrival, but the stringent army che...

The Northern Border | international: overseas Chinese | health: disease and medicine | Read Paper Republic Series: Afterlives |

by Li Zishu, translated by Joshua Dyer Nov 17, 2016

黎紫书: 《国北边陲

This is how he passes through the town: you see his thin, stooped shadow emerge from the sidelong glance of the sunlight – it is the first month of the lunar new year, and the flashing sun has just begun its descent into dusk. He slowly crosses the near-empty street carrying a flaccid travel bag. You watch him enter from the edge of town, and move into its heart.

He has an obvious limp, inching past storefronts sheltered beneath second...

Where Did I Lose You? | contemporary | urban life | Read Paper Republic Series: Afterlives |

by Fan Xiaoqing, translated by Paul Harris Nov 10, 2016

范小青: 《我在哪里丢失了你

Wang You had long forgotten when it was that he was first given somebody’s name card. Nor had he the faintest recollection of the occasion, whose card it was, their job title, what the person looked like or even whether it was a man or a woman. Try as hard as he might to remember, it was no use.

When he asked people of an older generation if they could recall when name cards first became popular, no-one could say for certain. Some said ...

Dragonworld | experimental | Read Paper Republic Series: Afterlives |

by Zhang Xinxin, translated by Helen Wang Nov 3, 2016

张辛欣: 《龙的食谱

Thirteen year old Zhaishao, whose soft cheeks have yet to witness their first spot, and who has yet to develop a life he can call his own, keeps all his assets on his hard drive: pirated movies, music downloads, computer games. I'm not sure when he took up residence in my brain, but when I'm feeling low I look at the world through his eyes, and all the problems of the real world dissolve into dazzling animation. Through his eyes I see ...

Dragon Boat | Hong Kong | myth and fairytale | sex | Read Paper Republic Series: Afterlives |

by Ge Liang, translated by Karen Curtis Oct 27, 2016

葛亮: 《龙舟

伦理剧In Yuye’s mind, there are no vast stretches of sea in Hong Kong. Victoria harbor, viewed from high above, looks like nothing more than a narrow strip of water. It is only after nightfall, in the waning light, when scattered twinkles on the boats and piers frame the contours of the water, that the sea starts to look more impressive.

Yuye grew up by the sea – a real one that stretched to the horizon. At high tide, giant waves crashed aga...

One Day, One of the Screws Will Come Loose | contemporary | journalism | political engagement |

by Li Jingrui, translated by Luisetta Mudie Jun 16, 2016

李静睿: 《我相信会有一颗松掉的螺丝钉

I was a news reporter for eight years before I quit my job. For three of those years I sat daily in the gallery of the Intermediate People's Court in Guangzhou, listening to cases. A criminal trial might last for two or three hours, with the verdict and sentence announced in a 15-minute hearing several months later. During that time, I watched a big-shot drug dealer do everything in his power to protect his wife. I witnessed a pair of lo...

Gu Jieming – a Life | Cultural Revolution | rural life | law and crime |

by Han Dong, translated by Nicky Harman Jun 9, 2016

韩东: 《古杰明传

伦理剧Twenty years ago, I left Gaoliang to go to university. In the autumn of the same year, my parents also left, to go home to Nanjing. They’d spent nine years of the Cultural Revolution in Gaoliang. Four of my friends from middle school helped my parents with packing up, and Gu Jieming was one of them. No doubt he threw himself into the job, his army-style, olive-green jacket soaked in sweat, the droplets pearling on his sh...

The Heart, Too, Broken | ancient China | gender |

by Li Xiuwen, translated by Karmia Olutade Jun 2, 2016

李修文: 《心都碎了

Oh, can there be a dimming of lights? Can these sheets be just a little softer? Can the bacchanalia outside this house be quieted? It is already very late, but people are still clamoring for more pleasure beneath the torchlight of the threshing floor. They have even drunkenly moved the feasting tables and set them upon the fresh mounds of glistening grain. And in the midst of the revelry, some have already tipped their glasses...

Moonlight in the Lotus Pond | nature | Republican Era |

by Zhu Ziqing, translated by Peter Richardson May 26, 2016

朱自清: 《荷塘月色

For the last few days I have been feeling quite unsettled, but when I sat taking the air in the courtyard this evening, my thoughts suddenly turned to the lotus pond that I go past every day. It must look quite different in the light of the full moon. And so, with the moon gradually rising and the sound of children’s laughter in the street fading beyond the wall, I left my wife in the house stroking Ruan and crooning folk tunes in a daze...

Return to the Great Northern Wilderness | Cultural Revolution | Heilongjiang | memoir |

by He Jiahong, translated by Emily Jones May 19, 2016

何家弘: 《重返“北大荒”

伦理剧After many years away, I am finally returning to that part of north-east China known as the Great Northern Wilderness. As I stand between the two tall, familiar mud buildings, the Great Barracks and the Great Mess, I feel a rare excitement. But it is shaded with anxiety and unease.

伦理剧The old company commander seems happy to see me. He calls his company of young people together to listen to me give a talk in the Great Barracks. This ...

The Bathtub – Scene of a Struggle | Cultural Revolution | youth and childhood |

by Han Dong, translated by Nicky Harman May 12, 2016

韩东: 《浴缸——武斗现场记

A white bathtub lies on a patch of green grass,
A dark window, its glass shattered, gapes above.
The bathtub was thrown down from there.

How strong do you have to be, to lift a bathtub
High in the air and hurl it through the window?
…he imagined a bathtub-throwing monster

The bigger boy thinks of a girl
Sitting, naked, in the bathtub.
The brilliant white bathtub reposes on the grass
伦理剧 A terrible, full ...

Dark Alley | Shanghai | youth and childhood |

by Wang Anyi, translated by Canaan Morse May 5, 2016

王安忆: 《黑弄堂

The gloom of the dark alley is partly a result of being hidden from the sun, partly the effect of popular embellishment. Everyone who grew up in the alleys has heard the threats from their parents – “Fuss, and I’ll throw you into the dark alley!” – and been scared into silence. When that generation became mothers and fathers, they used the same words to frighten their children. Two generations of rumor had, you might say, created the dark alle...

The Floor of Pipes | surrealist |

by Cao Kou, translated by David Haysom Apr 28, 2016

曹寇: 《管道层

The thirty-fifth floor of this building is known as the floor of pipes. This is how Wang Li referred to it on the phone. She did not actually say the thirty-fifth floor. Wang Li is presently in an office on the floor of pipes, and I am going to find her.

伦理剧The regular work lift goes only as far as the twenty-sixth floor, so getting to the floor of pipes necessitates squeezing into a different lift alongside workers with their building ma...

Self-Portrait | contemporary | writers and books | memoir |

by Zhang Xinxin, translated by Helen Wang Apr 21, 2016

张辛欣: 《自画像

伦理剧Thirty years ago (am I really so old?!) I was considered to be a totally self-obsessed writer. The novels I wrote were all about me. You can say what you like, I smile.

Twenty years ago I started to write an autobiographical novel. About me. With the title Me. As I was writing, I began to understand why some authors write autobiographical novels in the way that artists paint pictures of themselves. The image of oneself mirrored in one’s ...

Ying Yang Alley | old age | small town life |

by Fan Xiaoqing, translated by Helen Wang Apr 14, 2016

范小青: 《鹰扬巷

Illustration by Zhang Ruihua

伦理剧The sun was shining warmly on the walls and on the ground, and three old ladies were in the yard enjoying the sunshine. As their faces turned a rosy pink, a small child ran in, saying,

伦理剧“Grandma Tang, you’ve got a visitor.”

伦理剧“A visitor for me?” said Grandma Tang, “Now who could that be?”

伦理剧“I don’t know”, said the child, “it’s an old man.”

One of the ladies giggled, with a toothless grin, like a child. ...

An End of Days Story | death | science fiction |

by Fei Dao, translated by Alec Ash Apr 7, 2016

飞氘: 《一个末世的故事

When mother was little, she told father she wouldn’t marry him if he were the last man on Earth. This wounded father deeply. Driven by grief and indignation, working with a bleak resolve, he became a resident space station maintenance worker. From tens of thousands of feet up in space he kept a solitary watch over the planet, distancing himself from humanity, from Earth, and from mother.

Later, when father was the last man on Earth, mo...

The Motherland's Starry Skies (& six more poems) | contemporary |

by Shen Haobo, translated by Karmia Olutade Mar 31, 2016

沈浩波: 《祖国的星空

Someone in Tokyo
is watching the cherry blossoms fall,
cinnamon red.
Someone is watching snow fall in Beijing.
A few branches from the pagoda trees along East Drum Tower Street
always crack under the weight
and fall upon the muddied sidewalk each year.
Someone in Paris
is lighting a heart-shaped candle for the dead.
Someone onboard a plane is cloud-watching.
They are white as snow,
each with their deep and shallow divots,
as if t...

Snow | political engagement | writers and books |

by Xu Xiaobin, translated by Natascha Bruce and Nicky Harman Mar 24, 2016

徐小斌: 《

伦理剧The first heavy snowfall of the winter. A blanket of snow stretched out before her, not a tyre track, a fallen branch, a stone, or even so much as a feather to mar the view. The landscape was a snowy relief sculpture, beneath a sky the ashy grey of a Levitan oil painting. There was a profound, eerie stillness.

The stillness shattered at the ring of the phone.

伦理剧‘Is this Ms. Luo? I’m calling from the Municipal Propaganda Department.’

It w...

Chronicles of the Ancient Village | ethnic minorities | myth and fairytale |

by Na Zhangyuan, translated by Nick Admussen Mar 17, 2016

纳张元: 《古寨往事

IN THE HISTORY of Palisade Village, the winter of 1938 was an exceptional one. In front of the glazed-over eyes of the village’s residents, events of lasting importance fell neatly into place, as if somewhere in the shadows an invisible, omnipotent director was manipulating their fate. Afterwards, they would remember the events of that winter and shrug their shoulders at their own stupidity. What’s done is done.

伦理剧To the people of the an...

Dummies | dystopian fiction | surrealist | urban life |

by Hon Lai-chu, translated by Karen Curtis Mar 10, 2016

韓麗珠: 《木偶

Dummies: wooden replicas of human beings; expressionless companions popular since the late 90s.

伦理剧Only those who are truly familiar with City 8 will know that the biggest attraction of this city is not the litter-free streets, or the dazzling night-time illuminations, or the cut-price shopping; it is that once inside its borders, visitors can promptly let their faces go, so that their facial nerves, which at any other time are prepared...

That Damned Thing She Said | contemporary | gender | sex |

by Fu Yuli, translated by Nicky Harman Mar 3, 2016

傅玉丽: 《一句该死的话

伦理剧Why had she said that? Xiao Xiangxiang was secretly annoyed with herself. Of course, Bun-face must have got the idea she was trying to seduce him. The lift rose upwards, the indicator light winking at her. It seemed to be reading her thoughts. Xiangxiang looked down, her back tensed. Bun-face had his hand there, holding her lightly. There was a very masculine smell in the lift. Her toes gripped the floor through her shoes. She had been s...

Backflow River | home life | rural life |

by Jia Pingwa, translated by Nicky Harman Feb 25, 2016

贾平凹: 《倒流河

Backflow River had two small towns on its north side and three on the south side. If you wanted to cross the river, there was no bridge, only Dumbo’s boat. So, when people got to the river crossing, they yelled: ‘Bring the boat over, Dumbo!’ And Dumbo put down his water pipe and poled across as hard as he could. He was not as strong as he had been, but there was a hawser strung across the river which the boat was roped to, so it was unli...

Hopelessly Blind | dystopian fiction | experimental | surrealist |

by Zhou Kai, translated by Eleanor Goodman Feb 18, 2016

周恺: 《盲无正

伦理剧The last blind man in Blind Village had disappeared. That day and night Bright and Shiny lay in bed eagerly awaiting the dawn. A commotion was filtering in from outside, but Bright didn’t want to break the silence for fear of being punished, so he stayed in bed. Shiny peeked through the crack in the doorframe. He saw raised torches and candles floating through the air like fireflies, the faint lights boring little holes into the darkness...

A River Full of Glass | contemporary | home life |

by Qiu Huadong, translated by Robin Visser Feb 11, 2016

邱华栋: 《里面全是玻璃的河

伦理剧It was a Saturday and the weather was especially fine, so Feng Bin decided to go fishing. He hadn’t been fishing for a long time, mainly because his wife was pregnant, so he had to spend a lot of time at home taking care of her.

They had been married for five years. Last year after buying a house in this upscale development, his wife, a fashion designer, decided she wanted a child, and soon got pregnant. Now with her due date just one ...

Journey to the West | ancient China | myth and fairytale |

by Wu Cheng'en, translated by W J F Jenner Feb 3, 2016

吴承恩: 《西游记

On the Coiled Snake Mountain the

Gods Give Secret Help

伦理剧In the Eagle’s Sorrow Gorge the

Thought-Horse Is Reined in

伦理剧Monkey looked aft...

Apery | animals | rural life | surrealist |

by Sun Yisheng, translated by Nicky Harman Jan 28, 2016

孙一圣: 《猴者

Father was not a mountain, nor is this the story of a mountain. The mountain facing the village looked exactly like a great conflagration. Last night’s rain did not extinguish the mountain but it did drench our spirits. Father, who was dripping wet, did not die at the beginning of the mists. The mists shifted the mountain further away. But we heard Father open fire, and the firing brought the mountain nearer again.

伦理剧No one believed that...

The Cry of the Deer | birth | religion: Buddhism | myth and fairytale |

by Han Dong, translated by Nicky Harman Jan 21, 2016

韩东: 《呦呦鹿鸣

It was inexplicable. My wife had given birth to a deformed baby. He had no hands. Where they ought to have been, there were just two little fleshy lumps. My wife cried her eyes out, and I was really sad too. The instant I saw him, it was as if my ‘inner eye’ lit up and I foresaw a future of unrelieved hardship and misery.

The tests showed that neither the wife nor I had any problems, so it wasn’t an inherited defect. The doctors though...

Sunshine in Winter | contemporary | romance |

by Shi Kang, translated by Michelle Deeter, Killiana Liu, Juliet Vine and Helen Wang Jan 14, 2016

石康: 《冬日之光


伦理剧Liu Xiaomin had had a driving licence for three months. She had also had a brand new Honda sedan sitting in the garage for three months – her husband’s gift for her thirty-fifth birthday. He was the same age as her, but was getting so bald that he looked in his sixties. As the first winds of winter blew the leaves from the trees, she said, ‘How about taking me driving? Forget the match. I can see why people play football, but watchin...

Piano Twilight | music | old age |

by Chen Cun, translated by Michael Day Jan 7, 2016

陈村: 《琴声黄昏

When I look out the window in my room, I see a wall. On the other side of the wall is a junior high school. Each morning, loudspeakers blare out staccato blasts of sound. When my mind is unsettled, I stand at the window, look out on the schoolyard, and watch the students running endlessly back and forth. Only the afternoons are silent.

伦理剧As I have said before, I am in love with the twilight, with the sun setting in the west, with the golde...

Mahjong | contemporary | games | gender |

by Feng Tang, translated by Brendan O'Kane Dec 31, 2015

冯唐: 《麻将

Shang Shu had made up her mind: she was going to get married as soon as she could, before she became a shengnü – a leftover woman, an old maid, married to her career.

“And I’m going to marry money,” she added, “whatever it takes.” The consulting team I headed was out eating dinner, and Shang Shu made her announcement through a mouthful of Shuntak-style char-siu, the roast pork a perfect balance of lean and fatty meat.


Mr Jodhpurs | Republican Era | travel and exploration |

by Lao She, translated by Tony Blishen Dec 24, 2015

老舍: 《马裤先生

The train had not yet left Peking Station. Mr Jodhpurs, who occupied the compartment’s upper berth - jodhpurs, spectacles, a dark satin western style jacket with a writing brush tucked into the breast pocket, and feet resplendent in dark velvet slippers - asked, very amiably: ‘Did you get on at Peking?’

I was slightly taken aback. The train hadn’t moved; if I hadn’t got on at Peking where on earth had I got on?! I could only counter-at...

Venus | LGBTQ | sex |

by Chen Xue, translated by Josh Stenberg Dec 15, 2015

陳雪: 《维纳斯

伦理剧The silence of night falls on Phoenix’s room, it’s sometime in July, the dog days, it’s hot and stuffy outside, inside with the air-con on it gets down to 26 degrees, just the right temperature for an exchange of secrets.

伦理剧Mum and dad are just behind the wall in the main bedroom, but it’ll be alright. At three o’clock in the morning, the despairing and the hopeful are both awake. The world is so quiet that even the sound of breathing see...

Dreaming of My Father | home life | Taiwan | memoir |

by Liglave A-wu, translated by Kristen Robinson Dec 10, 2015

利格拉乐.阿[女乌]: 《梦中的父亲

伦理剧I have been seeing my father quite a bit in my dreams over the last six months. These dreams are so vivid that several times I have woken up unable to tell if it was a dream or a memory. He appears just as he was before he died; a fearful-looking old man with snowy white hair, a swollen body and a stern expression.

伦理剧It is fast approaching 20 years since my father died. Children born in that year have finished their military service and ar...

The One Who Picks Flowers | blue collar | gender | sex |

by Liu Qingbang, translated by Lee Yew Leong Dec 3, 2015

刘庆邦: 《挑花儿的

伦理剧Around this place, to praise a girl’s beauty, one doesn’t need a superlative, one merely says: ‘Ah, there’s one who picks flowers’. ‘The one who picks flowers’ being local idiom, directed at the fairer sex; not, mind you, referring to ‘flowerpickers’ who embroider floral patterns, but used especially to describe a girl of outstanding looks. The phrase brings instant clarity to the minds of those who hear it; one sees, in a flash, Spring’...

The Young Couple | Republican Era | rural life |

by Shen Congwen, translated by Canaan Morse Nov 26, 2015

沈从文: 《夫妇

One evening at dinner, Huang, who had moved to X___ village hoping that the quiet would cure his fragile nerves, was feeling helpless in front of a dish of bloody stir-fried chicken his host had made him. Suddenly, he heard a cry from outside: “Come on, come on! Come see what they’ve caught!”

伦理剧The voice was urgent, as if something serious had occurred, and soon the whole village echoed with equally anxious responses. Even Huang, who had...

Disappointing Returns | birth | gender | Macau |

by Yan Geling, translated by David Haysom Nov 19, 2015

严歌苓: 《妈阁是座城

The Mei family was different to every other Chinese family. People might have whispered about them, saying they got what they deserved, but the members of the Mei family didn’t care. Or rather, the women of the Mei family didn’t care, since for five generations there had been no men to speak of. Not since the time, five generations back, of an ancestor whose maiden name was Wu, who was called Mei-née-Wu by the other villagers, and who was know...

The Thinkers | science fiction |

by Liu Cixin, translated by Joel Martinsen Nov 12, 2015

刘慈欣: 《思想者

伦理剧He could still recall how he had felt thirty-four years ago when he saw the Siyun Mountain Observatory for the first time, when the ambulance crossed the mountain ridge and the main peak appeared in the distance, its domed telescope roofs reflecting the golden light of the setting sun like inlaid pearls.

Back then he had just become a trainee brain surgeon after graduating from medical school. He had come to the Observatory as a phys...

A Second Pregnancy, 1980 | birth | home life | rural life | memoir |

by Lu Min, translated by Helen Wang Nov 3, 2015

鲁敏: 《1980 年的第二胎

伦理剧The main reason for my mother’s lowly status in the family, and for her poor relationship with my grandmother, was that my grandfather, my grandmother, my father, and my mother herself, had always wanted a boy. My family was not unique; this was what everyone wanted. Unfortunately, I turned out to be a girl. My grandmother doted on me, but the situation was far from ideal: my father had been the only son in the family, and there was the questi...

Xie Bomao R.I.P. | Nanjing | old age | urban life | writers and books |

by Lu Min, translated by Helen Wang Oct 29, 2015

鲁敏: 《谢伯茂之死

伦理剧Another letter arrived for Xie Bomao. The neatly written characters—in a small, regular script written with brush and ink—were instantly recognisable. And there, as always, were the same four characters at the bottom of the envelope: “Sent by Chen, Nanjing.”

Li Fu held it in his hand and stared at it. These letters troubled him. He tossed it carefully into the pigeonhole on the left, where he reckoned there must be another twenty, maybe thirty...

My Name is Ding Xiban | myth and fairytale | sex | youth and childhood |

by Wu Qing, translated by Julia Lovell Oct 22, 2015

乌青: 《我就是丁西拌

伦理剧One evening, as I lay in bed, I suddenly felt stricken by shyness. It came from nowhere – I’d just been lying there on my own. And this wasn’t your average, common-or-garden kind of shyness – it was of a completely different, chronic order of things. It was like I was the shyest person in the world.

As soon as I began to think of how shy I was, I began to feel even shyer, until I thought I might die of it. I lay there sleeplessly, thinking o...

"Autumn Night" & "A Splendid Tale" | writers and books |

by Lu Xun, translated by David Haysom and Karmia Olutade Oct 15, 2015

鲁迅: 《野草

In my backyard, I can see two trees standing outside my walls. One of them is a jujube tree. The other is also a jujube tree.

伦理剧The night sky above this scene is strange and high. I have never seen a sky so strange and high. It is as if he is about to depart from the land of the living; people would no longer see him when they lift their faces. But for now, it is exceptionally blue, steely, beaming the eyes of dozens of stars. The...

Sorrow | language |

by Dai Wangshu, translated by Anna Gustafsson Chen Oct 8, 2015

戴望舒: 《烦忧

Say it’s the grief of lonely autumn
Say it’s the longing of distant seas
If someone asks about my sorrow
伦理剧 I do not dare to mention your name.

I do not dare to mention your name.
If someone asks about my sorrow
Say it’s the longing of distant seas
Say it’s the grief of lonely autumn.




There is Nothing to Bind Our Hearts Together | home life | Taiwan |

by Sabrina Huang, translated by Jeremy Tiang Oct 1, 2015

黃麗群: 《无物结同心

Their dreams were growing shorter and shorter.

Some mysterious force had caused their dream worlds to collide one twilit evening. They dreamed themselves a white house with a blue-tiled roof, washed over with dappled light and gusting winds, in the middle of a plain set ablaze by the setting sun.

In the dream they were young, clear-featured and slender. Because they retained memories of the real world, this pair of lovebirds seemed even mo...

Crows | animals | international |

by Cao Wenxuan, translated by Helen Wang Sep 24, 2015

曹文轩: 《乌鸦

In China, the crow has always had rather a bad reputation. It’s a sinister bird, a harbinger of misfortune. In Chinese films it’s always there in the bleak wilderness, or the shadow-strewn graveyard, or on the branch of a lone gnarled tree behind an old residence. The moment it utters that single cry, so shrill and hoarse, a sense of danger, of terror, rushes through us.

Exactly what it is about the crow we can’t say for sure. But it’s one o...

Bone Down | contemporary | Hong Kong | political engagement |

by Jacky Yuen, translated by Jiang Chenxin Sep 17, 2015

熒惑: 《骨落

In forty days and nights a TV antenna can go up
like a rack of fish bones choking the throat of the highway and hills
it's slender, lethal—horizontal in a city that grows vertically
Are you going to swallow me or nurture me? I even learned how
the sea breathes:
when the roaring tide surrenders its last breath to the calm
I unfurl myself into the world's funeral flag
hung over the Lion Rock Mountain, calling to every breathing shadow
伦理剧 I watch th...

Keep Running, Little Brother | home life | urban life |

by Lu Nei, translated by Rachel Henson Sep 10, 2015

路内: 《阿弟,你慢慢跑

My little brother, Wu Shuangfeng, was born in 1984. The day he was born, Dad was doing overtime at the factory. Nan and Granddad were at home playing mahjong. The baby had shown up on the ultrasound as a girl, so Dad’s side of the family weren’t particularly bothered about the birth. They already had one girl, me, and having another would be a complete waste of our child quota; we wouldn’t be able to try again even if we wanted to. But when th...

Painless | birth | health: physical | rural life | Xinjiang | youth and childhood |

by Yerkex Hurmanbek, translated by Roddy Flagg Sep 3, 2015

叶尔克西·胡尔曼别克: 《无痛

Nobody in the village noticed that my brother’s six-year-old daughter had chewed off all her fingers. Only her little palms were left, like two tiny shovels. But more mobile and fleshier, with a child’s warmth. She took bowls of food using her palms like pincers. The sight stopped her mother’s heart for an instant; the right ventricle blocked and wouldn’t let the blood through so the breath caught in her throat. It was a bit like when their pa...

1966: Locomotive | Cultural Revolution | youth and childhood |

by Wang Xiaoni, translated by Eleanor Goodman Aug 28, 2015

王小妮: 《火车头

This is a story about a lonely little boy. It is 1966, and he is eight years old.

It’s autumn, and the boy is walking along the railroad tracks on the thick black railroad ties. He’s lonely and travel-weary, his feet hurt from the crushed stones that poke through his worn-out shoes. He knows he must keep walking. He doesn't know that someone is looking for him, a man in a hat with a red armband on his sleeve.

The man in the hat leans his b...

Sissy Zhong | gender | Sichuan | small town life |

by Yan Ge, translated by Nicky Harman Aug 20, 2015

颜歌: 《钟腻哥

For the Zhongs of South Gate to have a son like Sissy seemed like a huge joke, at least to the folks of Pingle Town.

‘Sissy’ was just one of their disparaging nicknames for a man who was spineless, or slippery, or just plain shameless – in other words, not a proper man. There was ‘sponge’, ‘snot-sucker’… and ‘sissy’. That was for a boy who was so girly it was just gross.

伦理剧Sissy Zhong was certainly girly. As a child, I used to see him mincin...

A Woman, at Forty | home life | international |

by Zhang Ling, translated by Emily Jones Aug 13, 2015

张翎: 《女人四十

Today was Luosi’s fortieth birthday.

The alarm went off at 7 o’clock exactly.

Luosi lay in bed a while, before getting up. Her legs felt heavy. Sitting on the side of the bed, her eyes shut, she swung her legs back and forth until her feet caught hold of her soft-soled embroidered slippers. She dressed, still struggling to keep her eyes open and smothering her yawns. When she drew the curtains the sun was shining brilliantly. Her neighbour...

Missing | Beijing | contemporary | home life | justice and corruption |

by Li Jingrui, translated by Helen Wang Aug 6, 2015

李静睿: 《失踪

伦理剧Ten o’clock in the morning, thick grey smog. I’d been to buy some crabs at the Baliqiao wholesale market, and on my way back checked the mailbox at the entrance to our apartment complex. I’d already checked it at nine on my way out. In the past two and a half months I’d checked the mail more than ten times a day. I checked whenever I went out to buy food, and when I took the rubbish down. I’d developed a bit of ...

Regurgitated | June 4th | surrealist |

by Dorothy (Hiu Hung) Tse, translated by Karen Curtis Jul 30, 2015

謝曉虹: 《吞吐

The collective desire of City 64: To exit from the entrance.

The news that a son had been eaten came at three thirty-three in the afternoon.

伦理剧At first the news was no more than a current of air brushing past the old faded clippings on the Democracy Wall and the apolitical colors of the national flag. Everything was scattered by the breeze like blossoms in azalea season. The professor bent down, and then further down, to pick up a broken fin...

The Death of Zernik | international | myth and fairytale |

by Zhu Yue, translated by David Haysom Jul 23, 2015

朱岳: 《泽尔尼克之死

I am going to tell of a man slain in a duel, and the name of the man was Zernik.

There was something absurd about the circumstances leading to the duel. One cold winter’s night, Zernik emerged from a tavern, somewhat inebriated, and set off against the freezing wind towards the dock. All was dark at the time, but for the faint glimmer of lanterns on a few of the freighters. Zernik came to a halt at the waterfront and gazed out at the inky bl...

Mister Lover | ancient China | sex |

by Wang Xiaobo, translated by Eric Abrahamsen Jul 16, 2015

王小波: 《舅舅情人

伦理剧While Gao Zong lived, the four seas were calm, the empire knew peace and prosperity, and all the world’s goods flowed towards its capital. Chang’an was, at the time, the most glorious city on earth. Within its walls stood the emperor’s palace, its countless sumptuous halls adorned with painted pillars and carved beams – neither the Caliph of Baghdad nor the Persian emperor had seen their like. Emperor Gao Zong possesse...

Binary | LGBTQ | surrealist |

by Zhang Yueran, translated by Jeremy Tiang Jul 9, 2015

张悦然: 《二进制

伦理剧This is how it works: 0 moves to 1, and 1 moves back to 0. An endless cycle.


In April I returned to the town of B, to Mountain Lake Road. Before coming back, I’d been living in the middle of a dank forest, writing my novel with a pen like a twig. I saw no one. Sleep was the only visitor to come between me and my writing. Each time it afflicted me, I fell into a spiral of dreams that deposited me on Mountain Lake Road, yes, that wide roa...

January: Bridges | Hong Kong | surrealist |

by Dorothy (Hiu Hung) Tse, translated by Nicky Harman Jul 2, 2015

謝曉虹: 《一月:桥

伦理剧The crimson mothers live in a crimson sea. We, island-like, still live on the city’s island. In January’s cold blast, we lean out of our windows. Quarter past three in the afternoon, and everyone in the street has a coating of frost on their lips. If they open their mouths even a little, they cannot close them.

‘Everyone has become a silent, broken bridge. A musician stands on every bridge, eyes lowered, surrounded by young female flesh, his...

The Road to the Weeping Spring | ethnic minorities: Kazahk | rural life | Xinjiang |

by Li Juan, translated by Lucy Johnston Jun 25, 2015

李娟: 《通往滴水泉的路

There was a time when the Osman Path was the only road to the weeping spring. Osman Batyr was the famous "King of Altay” of a century ago.

Up until then, all roads had stretched far around the edges of the vast Gobi desert. They formed a fragmented and fragile course through folding mountain ranges, connecting the faraway oasis of Altay with the grasslands and snowy mountains of the south. No one could travel across the barren centre of the ...

Who's Speaking Please? | contemporary |

by A Yi, translated by Michelle Deeter Jun 18, 2015

阿乙: 《您好

Zhongwei had been in a daze ever since he came back home. There was still a dent in the centre of the pillow. The covers had been twisted by the snake-like grip of their legs. One flip-flop was in the bathroom, and one was just outside the door—she liked to walk around barefoot. The glass of water stood on a table, half-drunk. His underwear and shirt were folded beside the bed. She’d worn them while sitting on the windowsill early that morning...