Anyone who has lived in China has stories to tell. For foreigners and Chinese alike, this is a land that transforms itself every day, with something to write about on every corner. Collected in this anthology are 33 contributions, a mix of narrative non-fiction, fiction and poetry, from the writers' colony the Anthill. Together, they offer glimpses into this quicksilver country—by turns funny, touching and bizarre. Whether we stay or leave, the stories remain.
Alec Ash is a writer and journalist in Beijing, author of Wish Lanterns, literary nonfiction about the lives of six young Chinese published by Picador in 2016.
His articles have appeared in The Economist, Dissent, BBC, Prospect, Foreign Policy and elsewhere. He is a contributor to the book of reportage Chinese Characters and co-editor of the anthology While We're Here.
Born in England, Ash studied English literature at Oxford, where he edited The Isis magazine and hitchiked to Morocco. After graduating he taught in a Tibetan village in west China before moving to Beijing in 2008.
In 2012 he founded a 'writers' colony' of stories from China at the Anthill. He is a regular blogger for the Los Angeles Review of Books and has interviewed over sixty authors about their literary influences at Five Books.
In his free time he enjoys playing piano, doing qigong and writing about himself in the third person.
I think if I'm being honest this is probably a 3 star kind of book, but because I have personally met some of the people who contributed to this, I am inflating this to fully max out the stars in support of their endeavors.
It was a nice collection of little stories that reminded me of the time I spent living in China. I saw in these pages lots of my own memories reflected back at me. I enjoyed picking up little references to things in off-handed ways that I imagine would be simply missed by people who hadn't been there, but I got to feel briefly like I was in on the joke.
I was distracted occasionally by typographical errors in the printing I picked up from the library. I don't know who to hold that against.
I look back fondly on my time then, and feel a bit bad that I've done such a poor job of keeping up with the people I met in that time of my life (with some obvious exceptions, of course).