Shanghai International Literary Festival 2013 is currently taking place in the city (Beijingers, follow these links for details about this month’s Capital Literary Festival and the Bookworm Literary Festival), you can check out a full line up of events here. One event in particular we think is a must see is the March 15 panel discussion about Unsavory Elements: Stories of Foreigners on the Loose in China.
The panelists will include Alan Paul (author of Big in China), Matthew Polly (author of American Shaolin), Mark Kitto (author of China Cuckoo), Derek Sandhaus (author of Tales of Old Peking) and Nury Vittachi (author of The Feng Shui Detective), along with editor Tom Carter and publisher Graham Earnshaw of Earnshaw Books.
RMB 75, includes drink. Shanghai Glamour Bar, 7/F, No.5 The Bund (corner of Guangdong Lu). Tel: (86-21) 6350-9988. Buy tickets online at MyPiao.com. Advance booking recommended as event expected to sell out.
UNSAVORY ELEMENTS panel discussion will be immediately followed by a reunion performance from Alan Paul’s blues band, Woodie Alan. RMB 100, includes drink.
Earnshaw Books have provided us with a number of short extracts from the stories featured in the anthology:
East of Nowhere, South of Heaven
By Alan Paul
As I stood there bitterly looking down into that hole, silently damning New China’s incessant construction, I felt my face growing warm and wet. It was blood gushing from my nose. The dust, dryness, altitude – and stress – had gotten the best of me. I pressed a towel to my face as Wang spoke to some scurrying workers.
“Only one driver for machine,” Chris said, indicating the huge backhoe sitting by the side of the hole, “and he’s eating, or sleeping. They trying to get him. His name is Lu.”
Based on past responses from the roadside workers I was not brimming with optimism. But within minutes, someone did emerge from a tent and, waving at the bus full of foreigners, climbed aboard the backhoe and began furiously filling in the crater. My favorite childhood book, Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, came to mind…except now Mike was a migrant Chinese named Lu with a cigarette dangling from his mouth.
By Matthew Polly
“Because you are my new American friend, maybe I could give them to you for $2.25.”
“You are too kind,” I replied. “And because you are my new Chinese friend, I could pay $1.10.”
“Impossible,” he scoffed. “I would lose money on each one. It would be like you snuck into my house and stole from me. $2.15.”
And so it went for the next five hours. At various impasses I would pour us each two shots of baijiu. The rural Chinese in Henan Province mixed alcohol and business like you wouldn’t believe. Perhaps as a result, they also had a charming nationalistic blind spot: they honestly believed they could out-drink everyone else on the planet.
As an Irish-American who outweighed them by 50 pounds, I had come to find this both amusing and useful.
You Buy Me Drink?
By Nury Vittachi
The odd thing about the guy facing me was that he was tiny for a strutting super-villain: a short, thick, chubby man in his early 40s. If he’d been a superhero, he’d be Gangstergnome.
But his size wasn’t an issue, since anyone can beat me up, including little old ladies, as I am phobic about even the thought of pain, which triggers waves of whimpering and self-pity. Torturers would never have to get their pliers out. A quizzical glance in my direction would have me screaming secret formulas into their ears.
As I waited, the villain explained in faultless broken English that I owed an enormous debt to his organization and was required to hand over all my money and credit cards. He held out his hand. I placed my wallet into it. It contained nothing but old business cards and a forgotten receipt or two.
This was going to be bad.
Glamour Bar // No.5 The Bund, 6/F, 20 Guangdong Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu (外滩五号6楼, 广东路20号, 近中山东一路)