Tales of New Era: Snow by the Sea

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Overseen by the China Writers Association, People's Literature Magazine is the People's Republic of China's first national literary magazine. For more than seventy years it has contributed greatly to the promotion and prosperous development of literature in China, and has been an essential journal of modern Chinese literature for foreign Sinological institutions and libraries alike.

Editor's Review
The complex components of our lives-the daily rhythms, livelihoods, relationships, emotions, challenges, hopes-that constitute the core and the context of existence are transformed into story and the storytelling process: the concrete reality of modern life in China, or modern Chinese life. Even more important is the wisdom and honesty with which Chinese writers turn all this into literary narrative; this "Tales of New Era" anthology will bring you into the heart of it.

——Shi Zhanjun

Table of Contents
Alai Three Grassworms 4
Su Tong The Multimeter 98
Tie Ning Meimei Had Never Seen the Mountains 132
Wang Jinkang The Lost Treasure 146
Wu Yan September Sunshine 164
Jiang Yun The Red Detachment of Women 174
Zhang Wei Snow by the Sea 194
Wei Wei Dressing Up 224
Xiao Fuxing Late Osmanthus 258
Translators 274
Sample Pages Preview
Fifteen of them! Four hundred and fifty kuai!
  Rather than climbing any more hills, Sangay went striding along the road. The sunlight was intense, sparkling in the stream beside the road and in the ice melting in the bogs. As the thaw of the grasslands picked up pace, the smell of the dark earth grew stronger and stronger. Some yaks were leaning over bare rocks, licking at the salts that were starting to ooze out.
  After walking for more than twenty li, he arrived home.
  A new village. A new village that had been built as part of the herder resettlement programme. Every house identical. A door in front, with a window on either side, revealing that the house had three rooms. Then, to the left or to the right, the house turned a corner to reveal another room. There were twenty-six of these houses in total, maybe twenty-seven, and together they comprised a new village. Under the "Returning
  Grazing Lands to Grasslands" initiative, intended to preserve the waterhead of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, everyone was either completely banned from herding or restricted to a tiny fraction of their herds. Sangay's father had said: "It's no different from living in a city."
  Sangay disagreed, but he hadn't argued the point. A collection of fewer than thirty households-how could that count as living in a city? The government seat, where Sangay went to study, had toilets, a school, a mechanic's, an internet cafe, three noodle restaurants, one Tibetan restaurant, one Sichuan restaurant, a hairdresser's, a supermarket, and a temple. And that was just a small town, not a city. Even living there was hardly "no different from living in a city." They had no rubbery running track, no middle school with a library, no cinema, no plaza, no big hotels, no flyovers, no gangsters occupying the streets like you saw in movies, no traffic lights or traffic cops-how could it possibly count as a city? These people in their new settlement just hung around all day, dumb and devoid of purpose, with nothing to keep them busy except reciting the occasional mantra. At least until the north wind retreated and the warming south-west wind returned, waking the land, thawing the ice, and heralding the arrival of grassworm season. It was only then that people were able to wake from their nightmare.
  Sangay didn't want to dispel his father's illusion. Only in his head could he reply: hanging around here, getting by on a measly government subsidy, was very different from living in a city.
  Even though every household had a satellite dish installed on the roof that could receive a local TV broadcast translated into Tibetan, Sangay's mother and father sat down every right to drink their tea and watch the stories of the Chinese city dwellers whose language they didn't understand.
  Afterwards they'd lie down, wrap themselves up in their quilts, and exchange commentaries.
  His mother's question was this: "Those folk eat well and dress well and don't have to work-so why is it they're so stressed, tired, and unhappy?"
  When Sangay heard this kind of talk he'd think to himself: because you don't live in the city, and you don't understand what life is like for city folk.
Tales of New Era: Snow by the Sea