Translation

The Picun Writer’s Group: Part Two

More stories from a migrant workers’ village collective – translated by Jeremy Tiang

This article from One-Way Street Magazine is published in collaboration with Paper Republic. The translation was made possible with support from Sinocism and individual readers via Patreon – donate now to join the effort and help us raise $300 a month to fund more!

Editor’s note: This is the second of two posts (read the first here) that brings stories from the Picun Writers Group, a collective of migrant workers who live in Picun (皮村) on the outskirts of Beijing, into English. The group came to international attention when an essay by one of its members, titled ‘I am Fan Yusu,’ went viral in April 2017 – which Ting Guo writes about here. But there are many other essays, vignettes and poems that the group has produced, which we believe deserve to be read. Here are a few more of them. – Alec Ash

Translation

The Picun Writer’s Group: Part One

True stories from a migrant workers’ village collective – translated by Jeremy Tiang

From the editor of One-Way Street: A few years ago, the Picun Writers Group caught the attention of Chinese society and the wider world of letters. This was not just 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, and roused the sympathy of readers. They clearly and comprehensively related the life changes of ordinary Chinese, which these days is more important than any literature technique, school or style.

The Picun Writers Group first started its community writing classes on September 21, 2014. Every week, volunteer teachers and fellow workers would discuss how to use writing to record and reflect on their lives. The workers gradually started to write and let their voices be heard. Nowadays their works have been successively published in a variety of nonfiction venues, and rising numbers of readers are paying attention to them and the communities they represent. This post is the first of two (the second will follow next Friday) that will bring some of their writings into English for the first time. – Wu Qi

Q&A

I Can Only Go by My Gut

A conversation with Singaporean novelist Jeremy Tiang

Nick Stember: You’ve said before that you dislike talking about your work, and I guess this is a little bit of an ironic or awkward place to start an interview, but I wonder if you could elaborate on this.

Jeremy Tiang: I think the work should stand on its own, and by the time it's out in the world, I don't have much more to say about it. I also don't like talking about work-in-progress, because I believe that if you say something out loud too much, it starts to feel limp and worn out by the time you come to write it. Really, I'd be much happier if author panels could just consist of me showing the audience pictures of my cat.