Litro #118: China

Litro #118: China

China is impossible to describe. An ancient civilization, a vast nation, the largest population in the world. All true, but what is it actually like? How can we attempt to understand a country with 1.3 billion people? What could possibly be representative? At times it feels like the Great Wall—so vast it can be seen from space—is a mental as well as physical barrier. Read more →

Litro #118: China—Editors’ Letter

China is impossible to describe. An ancient civilization, a vast nation, the largest population in the world. All true, but what is it actually like? How can we attempt to understand a country with 1.3 billion people? What could possibly be representative? At times it feels like the Great Wall—so vast it can be seen from space—is a mental as well as physical barrier.

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Photo by Roey Ahram
SEPTEMBER

Disguises

On the night Mrs. Chen got lost, she was wearing a golden amulet of the goddess Kuan Yin underneath her clothes, for protection. She took the subway home from the factory in Chinatown. Sitting on the long seat with her feet lightly grazing the floor, she felt the weight of sleep drag her head forward, her permed curls sinking towards the small neat hands cupped politely in her lap. As the half-empty subway car lurched through the tunnel, its movement sporadically flung her head upward. She caught herself from sleep in those moments, looking about her, alarmed, only to have exhaustion fall over her again like a blanket. Read more →

The York Bar

“You want to know why they call me Sugar Daddy?” A slender Chinese man with a pinstripe fedora angled on his head sidles up to Miranda and me, and a few of our friends, holding a few beers that look suspiciously unfamiliar. Miranda switches from her native Chinese to English easily, but runs her hands through her mass of curls at a loss for words. We shoot Miranda surprised and awkward glances as “Sugar Daddy” lets loose some rapid-fire Chinese and wrenches the caps off the bottles Read more →
Photo by yui*/Flickr
SEPTEMBER

Then the Game Begins

The man who invented Mah Jong is a hero. Yeah, definitely a hero. He saves people’s lives, people like me who have nothing good to count on at night. You know I used to think that playing Mah Jong was only for grandparents, and a young woman like me would have better things to do. But now I know this game is for everyone, for all the people in China. I wonder what Chairman Mao thought of Mah Jong during the Cultural Revolution, maybe he tried to stamp it out. Very unwise I think.I feel a much stronger person since I started playing Mah Jong. And you know what’s more, it has brought about an affair. Read more →
(c) Kevin Schoenmakers
SEPTEMBER

Common People by A Yi

Imagine—if you will—that you are a large bird, hovering over the town of Jujiu on 20 April 1998. You would have seen the county’s deputy mayor, Li Yaojun, getting unexpectedly promoted to legal-political commissar; Chen Mingyi, a secondary school teacher, smashing his head on the ground outside a department store; Li Xilan’s husband heading off (and not for the first time) to Beijing to get his impotence treated; a team of migrant workers digging a pit in the road outside the park; and Feng Botao—accountant at the Linye Hostel—suggesting a game of chess to Ho Lao’er, a security guard in the local building society. And if you had been asked to arrange these disparate pieces of information in order of importance, you would probably have placed the final fact at the bottom of the pile. Read more →

Listings: September 2012

New St. James Theatre opens in London
St. James Theatre, the first newly built theatre complex in central London in 30 years, will open to the public this month. Rising from the site of the former Westminster Theatre at 12 Palace Street, in the heart of Victoria, the space will include a 312-seat theatre, a studio space, brasserie and bar. David Gilmore (Artistic Director) and James Albrecht (Assistant Artistic Director) will produce a varied programme to include musicals, comedies and classic revivals as well as offering a London venue to touring and regional productions.

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