Fiction

My Old Faithful

The botany of a marriage – fiction by Yang Huang

As soon as I set foot in the nursery’s garden I find the auspicious flower: a red double peony. Its huge blossoms burst forth as if brimming over with rose-red joy. I stand in awe, while the store clerk tells me its strong stems never fall, even in the harshest weather. Its name, Old Faithful, makes it perfect for my home, as my husband and I are going to have our thirtieth wedding anniversary in two weeks.

“Yes,” I say.

I carry the potted peony to the storefront. My husband is talking to a young woman with a fluffy, chrysanthemum-like hairdo. “Can you give me a hand?” I call out to him. The woman glances at me, backs away into the crowd, and boards the bus.

My husband takes my heavy pot and clamps it onto the back seat of his bike. “You scared away some business,” he tells me with a smile.

“What sort of business?”

“The bawdy kind.” He crisscrosses the pot with a nylon rope and fastens a dead knot. “I’m pretty sure she was a prostitute.”

Fiction

A Hero is Born

An excerpt from Legends of the Condor Heroes: A Hero Born by Jin Yong, translated by Anna Holmwood

Also read our review of the book

China: 1200 A.D.

The Song Empire has been invaded by its warlike Jurchen neighbours from the north. Half its territory and its historic capital lie in enemy hands; the peasants toil under the burden of the annual tribute demanded by the victors. Meanwhile, on the Mongolian steppe, a disparate nation of great warriors is about to be united by a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan.

Guo Jing (Skyfury Guo), son of a murdered Song patriot, grew up with Genghis Khan's army. He is humble, loyal, perhaps not altogether wise, and is fated from birth to one day confront an opponent who is the opposite of him in every way: privileged, cunning and flawlessly trained in the martial arts. Guided by his faithful shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing must return to China - to the Garden of the Drunken Immortals in Jiaxing - to fulfil his destiny. But in a divided land riven by war and betrayal, his courage and his loyalties will be tested at every turn.