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That Damned Thing She Said: A BLF “Speed Bookclubbing” Event

That Damned Thing

With International Women’s Day (March 8) in mind, Read Paper Republic has selected four short stories from China that focus on highly charged issues such as sexual freedom, political disappearances, “leftover” women, and compromising situations. A woman trapped in a loveless marriage has an awkward, but ultimately empowering, one-night stand. A wife comes home to find her husband has disappeared, or rather “been disappeared.” The colleagues of a career woman apply their engineering expertise to the intractable problem of finding her a worthy husband. A young woman refuses to sleep with her boss, with catastrophic consequences for her family.

It all comes to a head tomorrow — Saturday, March 12 — in the Bookworm Literary Festival event That Damned Thing She Said, which happens at 4 pm at The Bookworm.

Download the stories by clicking on the titles below and read them in advance, then come along for some speed bookclubbing!

  • Four moderators with a background in Chinese literature will lead four groups simultaneously. (Click on their pictures below to see their profiles.)
  • Discuss one story for twenty minutes, then move onto the next.
  • Talk about the subject matter, the style, the writing, and the authors (does it make a difference that two of the stories are written and translated by women, and the other two by men?)

You’ll get a chance to ask any questions you like. But most of all, this is an interactive event: we want to hear what you think, which ones you liked (or not) and what intrigued or puzzled you. And we’ll also be reaching out to the authors before the event, so if you have any questions you’d like to ask them about the stories, please leave a comment on the story pages at Read Paper Republic.

This event will also be taking place at the Free Word Centre in London on March 14.

Download the original short stories by clicking on the links in the titles below:

That Damned Thing She Said, by FU Yuli, translated by Nicky Harman

Missing, by LI Jingrui, translated by Helen Wang

Mahjong, by FENG Tang, translated by Brendan O’Kane

The One Who Picks Flowers, by LIU Qingbang, translated by Lee Yew Leong

Don’t worry if you don’t finish all four stories before the event – you can download this cheat sheet, which provides a brief introduction to each of them so that you can come along to enjoy the discussion and hear what the translators have to say.

That Damned Thing She Said is a Bookworm Literary Festival event taking place on Saturday, March 12 at 4 pm at The Bookworm. You can purchase tickets online or at The Bookworm.

Abrahamson, EricHaysom, Dave

Karoline KanNick Stember

Clockwise from top left: Eric Abrahamsen, Dave Haysom, Karoline Kan, Nick Stember

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