The Beijing of Possibilities

Jonathan Tel, Author, Helan Xiao, Foreword by . Other Press $22.95 (185p) ISBN 978-1-59051-326-2

Tel (Freud’s Alphabet ) spins a collection of dreamlike short stories out of the lives of Beijing’s residents, from crime-fighting, gorilla-costumed messengers to thieves, buskers and composers. The stories form an impression of Beijing on the eve of the 2008 Olympics, weaving in the culture, history and present reality of a city undergoing rapid change. In “The Book of Auspicious and Inauspicious Dreams,” a modern young couple attempts to return the souvenirs of a woman’s bourgeois past, hidden during the Cultural Revolution, which they discover while renovating their apartment. A musician in “Shadow of Candles Flickering Red” remembers picking up the ehru, a traditional Chinese instrument, while being “re-educated” in the Chinese countryside. In “The Most Beautiful Woman in China,” some of these characters reappear in a tale that combines everything from mythological traditions to the sayings of Deng Xiaoping to create a humming, ethereal image of the city and its culture. The collection, part W.G. Sebald and part Italo Calvino, provides a glimpse for the Western reader into the complicated, vibrant world of Beijing. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/06/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
Open Ebook - 104 pages - 978-1-59051-347-7
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!