On Saturdays (Storycuts)

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Dongliang once held high status as the grandson of an admired revolutionary but after his ancestry is questioned his life changes dramatically. These two quirky novellas about small towns and their unusual inhabitants are surprisingly dark and funny. Disgraced Secretary Ku has been banished from the Party - it has been officially proved he does not have a fish-shaped birthmark on his bottom and is therefore not the son of a revolutionary martyr, but the issue of a river pirate and a prostitute.

Mocked by the citizens of Milltown, Secretary Ku leaves the shore for a new life among the boat people on a fleet of industrial barges. Refusing to renounce his high status, he maintains a distance - with Dongliang, his teenage son - from the gossipy lowlifes who surround him. One day a feral little girl, Huixian, arrives looking for her mother, who has jumped to her death in the river. The boat people, and especially Dongliang, take her to their hearts. But Huixian sows conflict wherever she goes, and soon Dongliang is in the grip of an obsession for her. He takes on Life, Fate and the Party in the only way he knows.

Since the new period, more and more Chinese writers have won the attention of the international community. The dialogue between Chinese literature and the world is being carried out in a wider area and at a deeper level, which shows the recovery and rejuvenation of Chinese culture in the world from the side. In 'How the Ceremony Ends', it was last winter that the folklorist paid his visit to the village of Eight Pines.

He wanted to collect folk tales and customs, to re-enact the ceremonies of life and death that only old men still remember. But somehow he managed to provoke the villagers. In 'The Water Demon', at the beginning, no-one noticed the little girl on the bridge. No-one knew what she was doing; she just stood and watched. She would call out loudly, 'Here comes the water demon! Get out of the water or he will get you by the feet! Then, one day, there was no little girl on the bridge. Part of the Storycuts series, these two short stories were previously published in the collection Madwoman on the Bridge.

In 'Dance of Heartbreak', something happened to a young boy in Grade 4, at Red Flag Elementary School; but even today the whole affair remains fresh in his mind. He'd never met another girl like her; she was a little child of glass, beautiful in her sorrow when she ran to centre stage.

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For him, she was an archetype. In 'The Diary for August', the inspector looked at the suspect who had been brought in for the incident at the city wall. He was fourteen or fifteen, dripping wet from the swimming pool where they had found him, and both his legs were trembling. It looked like he knew he had caused a disaster. Miaoyue found Mr Cui taller and better built than she'd imagined, and also a little younger and more handsome.

For some reason, this irritated her. In 'The Q of Hearts', when the boy found the Queen of Hearts missing from his deck of cards, he immediately assumed that someone had stolen it.

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It was , and those cards were his only toy. He searched everywhere for a new one - but only found things to frighten him. The train was late, and the wind was blowing Meng's coat open in the snow. With no sign of his cousin, he needed somewhere to stay the night. An old man enticed him to a second-rate hostel, and despite his annoyance, Meng couldn't shake the feeling that he'd seen this place, and the old man, before.

Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection Madwoman on the Bridge. Yongshan is taking her son back to Licheng to visit relatives, and to see the town where she grew up. But when they get there, all she could find were desolate houses. Even the people on the street seemed not to recognise her.

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But then, in the rubble of her old neighbourhood, Yongshan finds something to grab hold of - a memento of the past. The madwoman was wearing a white velvet cheongsam. Standing on the bridge, she revelled in her own faded splendour. Normal people pay no attention to madwomen, but one woman from Shaoxing stayed on the bridge that afternoon to talk to this one; what was she coveting?

You don't expect some guy making small talk on a train to turn into a real friend, but that was just the kind of friend Papa Qi was. And afterwards, Saturday became Papa Qi's visiting day. It was rare for the people from Wangbao to come down from their mountain village, but one spring, they arrive in town with sensational news - a virgin birth. What's more, there is something very odd about the baby - he is as big as a child of three, black all over and missing a finger. The villagers whisper that he is the thunder god's son, but back in town, the local doctor knows something he is too afraid to tell.

Bao Qing was a classic example of what people in Maqiao meant when they spat out the word 'intellectual'. Coming home to his old town for the holidays was just as much trouble as not coming home, for this was a town where his old schoolmate Fatcat had every local business in his pocket. And Fatcat considered the returning 'professor' a celebrity. In Leopard's Love 2.

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On Saturdays (Storycuts)

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