I am NOT a short story person usually, far preferring novel-length fiction, but the topic of this particularly collection was too enticing to pass up. It did not disappoint.
Each of these stories presents the faces of 21st century China, both at home and abroad. Capitalism and the communist legacy are front and center in each of these stories. You see clearly China’s history, with the older generations portrayed as having lived through forced labor, famine, and protest, and the younger generations who have more economic possibility, but they’re hemmed in by that too.
Not every one hit as hard, but New Fruit, The Land of Big Numbers, and most especially the culminating piece, Gubeikou Spirit, capture the possibility and progress of life in China, while also making you feel the limits placed on citizens by an omnipotent government. Gubeikou Spirit is a surreal, twisted pseudo-reality that you can almost believe could really happen…I don’t want to spoil the plot, it’s worth discovering for yourself!
I would recommend this collection to anyone who wants to read tightly written, revealing portraits of modern Chinese life, that pull back the curtain on a place that is, at its essence, still a totalitarian communist state that controls how people move and live, while also being a place where capitalism is still new, young, and running wild.