Essay

The Thrill of a Stranger

Kassy Lee unpicks Xiao Shui’s poetry in Stories from Bohai Sea

In the West, we’re taught that Chinese people value their family and their familial relationships above all else. Confucian values are supposed to impose order on society: son obeys father, wife obeys husband, and everyone obeys the emperor. Unlike the individualism of the West, Chinese society is built on filial piety, or so the story goes. After years of social upheaval, however, how are Chinese families coming to terms with domestic migration? One answer can be found in the work of contemporary poet Xiao Shui.