Friday, 15 March 2019

China Dispatches: the best creative non-fiction available now

Paper Republic promotes Chinese literature in English translation. It highlights new writing from contemporary Chinese writers.

Along with One-Way Street Magazine(单读) and the LA Review of Books’ China Channel, Paper Republic is about to launch the second series of China Dispatches. This unique three-way collaboration focuses on translating the best non-fiction coming from China right now, and making it available online, completely free to read. Essays are first published in Chinese in One-Way Street Magazine (单读) then and presented in English by Paper Republic in collaboration with the Los Angeles Review of Books’ China Channel.

The first instalment, A Fortune-teller in a Modern Metropolis, by Liang Hong, is translated by Michael Day. The essay tells the story of Xian Yi, a man in an old profession that is curiously out of step with modern China. 

“It seems unbelievable, but Xian Yi is a fortune teller. I’ve never really shaken off the shock of it. I can’t quite convince myself that Xian Yi has taken up a folksy, out-of-its-time occupation rejected by the modern world. If you’re anything like me, you envision a fortune teller as a dark, slender figure with a black skullcap and fingers like dry twigs, an old man with a whiff of black magic about him. That’s the image I saw instinctively when I heard Xian Yi was a fortune teller. But as far as I can see Xian Yi is cheerful, cultured, understated, good at conversation, his looks and mannerisms exuding intelligence. Only when I watch the prayer beads sliding rhythmically through his fingers do I catch a glimpse of the occult.”

A Fortune-teller in a Modern Metropolis is available to read in full in English here.

Over the next few months Paper Republic, One-Way Street Magazine(单读) and the Los Angeles  Review of Books’ China Channel will be publishing one new essay a month - so keep an eye out!