Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pathlight No 1 2012

The early morning is a good time to read a short story. I have been dipping into the stories in Pathlight, the first volume of a Chinese literary magazine I was given at the London Book Fair. It is filled with contemporary Chinese short stories and poetry: a good way to get a feel of the cultural life of a place, perhaps.

The first I read was 'A Sheep Released to Life' written by the Tibetan writer Tsering Norbu. It was about a elderly widower who takes care of a sheep, releasing her back to life, because he believes that she is the reincarnation of his wife. They spend their days making pilgrimages and paying their respects at temples so that they both will have a better life in their next reincarnation. It is a quiet tale, oddly comforting to read.

This morning I read 'Pregnant Women with Cow' by Tie Ning. This is simply about ... a pregnant woman taking a walk with a pregnant cow. Nothing much happens except the woman, who is illiterate, sketches the writing she sees on an old Qing-age stele so that a literate elder in her village can interpret them for her. The writing is skilful and absorbing and gives a sense of how it must be to live in an isolated rural part of modern China.


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