Chinese Modern Classics: The Promise Bird

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Author: Jeremy Tiang;
Language: English
Format: 19.2 x 13.2 x 1.8 cm
Page: 329
Publication Date: 06/2017
ISBN: 9787500151579,7500151578
Publisher: China Translation & Publishing House
Series: Chinese Modern Classics
The blind woman Chun Chi has a secret. Accompanied only by her The Memory Is So Beautiful That We Will Crash Soul for It adopted son Xiao Xing and a eunuch, she lives in a crumbling house stacked with boxes of seashells. But what does she hope to gain from them? Why does she keep going out to sea? How did she lose her sight? Seeking answers, Xiao Xing goes on a quest to uncover her past, which takes him on a journey far from home and into the jungles of Java. Set in the early fifteenth century, when Ming Emperor Yongle sent fleets of Chinese ships to explore Southeast Asia, entangling the two regions, The Promise Bird flits between the frozen north Chinese winter and the blazing heat of the tropics. An uncompromising novel about devotion that borders on obsession, and a love that tips into madness.

About Author

Zhang Yueran was born in 1982 the city of Jinan, Shandong Province. She began writing at the age of 14, and as a high school student, won first prize in the nationwide New Concept Composition Competition. After studying English and law at Shandong University, she completed a graduate degree in computer science at Singapore University. Zhang Yueran is regarded as one of China's most influential young writers. She has published two short story collections: Sunflower Missing In 1890 (2003) and Ten Loves (2004), and three novels: Distant Cherry (2004), Narcissus (2005) and The Promise Bird (2006), which was named the Best Saga Novel 2006. Her other awards include the Chinese Press Most Promising New Talent Award (2005), the Spring Literature Prize (2006), and the “MAO-TAI Cup” People’s Literature Prize (2008). In 2012, she was named by Unitas magazine as one of the top 20 writers under 40. She has been the chief editor of Newriting since 2008 and holds a PhD in Ancient Chinese Literature from Renmin University.

Table of Contents
Sample Pages Preview
The daughter of the Sun God was known as Nü Wa,
a delightful little girl, beloved of all who met her.
While her father was busy at work,
bringing light and heat to mankind,
she ran through the fields of wildflowers
in her favourite pair of red shoes.
One day, she saw the great golden disc
of the sun rise out of the sea,
and became consumed with a desire
to see its origin for herself.
She asked her father to bring her, but he refused,
because the far side of the Eastern Sea
from where the sun rose
was too far away, too hot, too dangerous
for a little girl.
Disobedient for the first time in her life,
Nü Wa decided to make her own way there.
She swam through the Eastern Sea,
but it was further than she thought.
She grew tired.
When a great wave came along,
she did not have the energy to resist it
and was drowned.

Nü Wa’s spirit became a bird with red feet,
and red markings on her head
like the wildflowers she had loved in life.
She was known as the Jingwei bird,
for the cry she emitted: “Jingwei, jingwei.”
The Jingwei bird hated the ocean
for taking her life, and vowed to fill it.
Lifting pebbles and twigs in her beak,
she ferried them far out to sea
and dropped them into the water.
The Eastern Sea mocked the little bird
for the futility of her actions,
but the Jingwei bird continued.
“As long as I have patience, and do not waver,”
she told the ocean, “There will come a day
when I fulfil my task, and you are no more.”
For her steadfastness, Jingwei is also known as
the Promise Bird.

To the best of my recollection, I only went out with Chun Chi that one time, when I was nine. It was the happiest day of my uneventful childhood, and also the saddest.

She took me to see the flower lanterns that day. Her suggestion surprised and delighted me. Why would a blind woman want to see the lanterns? I couldn’t understamd. Perhaps she just wanted to make me happy. What bliss, an outing with Chun Chi. Aged nine, I cherished every scrap of time spent with her. It was like a holiday. I wore the outfit Auntie Lan made for me at Spring Festival, and my shoes were new too, never worn outside the house. Chun Chi even had Auntie Lan steam a few red date buns for me to bring along, in case I got hungry. Flower Market Street was some distance from our home, so Chun Chi hired a horse-cart.

At the lantern festival, we walked close together, but she wouldn’t let me help her. I bumped into her again and again in the ocean of people. Because she often went out to sea, Chun Chi’s clothes smelt faintly of salt water, soft as seagrass. Even in the midst of so many people she seemed a little apart from the crowd. She never let anyone hold her arm, and I doubt passers-by realised she was blind.
Chinese Modern Classics: The Promise Bird