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.

Essay

Mountain and Forest

The Tao of Ursula K. Le Guin  — Nick Stember

Memorably described by China Miéville as an ‘unflinching radical, literary colossus, comrade, a giant of modern letters,’  tributes to Ursula K. Le Guin’s legacy have come from far and wide — to list just a few, Stephen King, John Scalzi, Neil Gaiman, N.K. Jemison, Naomi Klein — with many more doubtless to come. While Margaret Atwood has (rightly) pointed out the prescience of Le Guin’s 1969 novel, The Left-Hand of Darkness, readers might be surprised to learn that this book was inspired in part by ancient Chinese thought.

Translation

The Plight of Writing

An undelivered speech by Jia Pingwa

"Facing eternity, or the lack of it, each day."

It is strange to think that these words, spoken by a foreigner so long ago, could describe our current situation so well.

When an author first starts writing, they value craft and skill. Eventually, though, stamina – and things learned from personal experience – are what really matter. Today a writer’s vision is more important than ever.

Story Club

Finished

A modern fable – by Han Song

As with our last story, we invite readers to write to [email protected] before November 21 with questions and comments about the story for us, the editors, to reply and respond to. Feel free to also ask more general questions about Chinese science fiction, a booming and multi-faceted genre in China that this story is just one surreal example of.

It was a dark and gloomy but bright and shining place, like a construction site – the kind of construction site that was just about hell and might just as well be heaven. A bell rang out, sharp and piercing over the clamor of the place, and all was suddenly quiet. Wang Gu nearly jumped in fright. He'd been busy for some time, but now they’d called a halt to work. Which was to say – he had nothing to do. Finally finished! But, suddenly idle, Wang Gu found himself at a loss. Thunderstruck, he felt a cold shiver of fear cut through him, like a knife to the vitals. It was as if he'd awoken unexpectedly from a dream he wasn't meant to ever recover from. What happened? It took him a long time to adjust to it all. And then something welled up from deep within in his chest: Now that I'm finished it’s time to collect my pay.

Translation

Lu Xun, Demon Hunter

A wuxia parody by Pan Haitian – translated by Nick Stember

Night of the full moon, Peking.

The Shaoxing Hostel lays just outside the Gate of Military Might.

Three rooms and a courtyard, where a crooked locust tree stands, haunted by the ghost of a hanged woman. There are few guests, until the second year of the Republic, when a man in a long-sleeved gown arrives, carrying a collection of rubbings from ancient tablets. His hair is like steel needles, and a thick mustache graces his upper lip.

He spends his days copying out the rubbings.