Reading Urban China
If you are interested in Literature and Chinese Urban Culture, here’s one for you: Shi Cheng: Short Stories From Urban China. (edited by Liu Ding, Carol Yinhghua and Ra Page, published by CommaPress). This collection of short stories by a few of China’s hottest and most talented contemporary writers offers non-Chinese readers with an insight in what’s going on in Urban China and a peek into what Literary China has to offer nowadays. All stories take place in cities throughout China: Harbin, Shenyang, Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Wuhan, Nanjing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. The authors use the environment of the city as a theatre in which the stories are to be unfolded.
All of them do this in an amusing yet not pulpy way: stories by the hand of contemporary writers like Han Dong, Jie Chen, Xu Zechen (link to personal website for Chinese-readers here) and, my personal favorite, Cao Kou, are written in witty, obscure, realistic and cunning styles. There’s something in this collection for all tastes. My favorite story must be “Kangkang’s Gonna Kill That Fucker Zhao Yilu” by Cao Kou, a story which sets in Chengdu. As for the question whether Kangkang is actually going to kill That Fucker Zhao Yilu, I urge those who want to know more about Chinese Urban Culture or Chinese Literature to please DO find out, it’s worth it!