Friends — Sometimes, a story that you struggle with becomes the story that soars between countries, becoming part of an international conversation, bridging readers and writers from far away communities.
That’s what happened with my story “Nothing Like Chongqing.” Inspired by my actual trip to China, this magical realist tale was one that I labored over — trying repeatedly to find a middle and an end that investigated the issues that I care about without sounding preachy. I figured it out at last, by opening things up, rather than trying to shut them down — by asking questions and exploring the nooks and crannies of the narrative space that I had created.
Wonderful poet, writer and publisher Shannon Phillips invited me to submit something for an international project that she was co-editing with Aaisha Umt Ur Rashid focussing on writers in Pakistan and the US. And I thought “would they like a story about Seattle and China?”
I’m so honored to be part of this volume!
Here are the first two paragraphs of the story…
Remember the time we visited the university library in Chongqing, and we saw those beautiful dragon manuscripts?
Of course, as non-Mandarin (or Cantonese) speakers, we could not read anything at all. The Chinese orthographic system is so different from English; we could just barely make out the characters for man, woman and exit, and that after studying with a private tutor for 3 months before the trip. But we took in the elegant pictures of dragons and we gloried in the roof garden at the top of the library where they served purified hot water and you could look out over the university, then walk down and eat ice cream from jovial vendors on the street.
But you died right after that trip.
You can read the rest of the story for free, here. Take a look at the other fantastic poems and stories, and please consider purchasing a copy of this volume to support this beautiful project.