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The Pearl Jacket and Other Stories: Flas Fiction from Contemporary China by Shouhua Qi (ed.)
Date of Review: 
Isaac Stone Fish
Asian Review of Books

Ever since the rise of the Internet and the fall of the attention span the genre of flash fiction has boomed in China. Known in Chinese as "Minute Story", "Pocket-Size Story", "Palm-Size Story", or "Smoke-Long Story", flash fiction is an extremely short short story, often no more than a few hundred words. Shouhua Qi, Professor of English at Western Connecticut State University and author of the short-story collection Red Guard Fantasies, edited and translated a collection of flash fiction, which he says represent the achievements of the genre in contemporary China.

The collection ends with the dystopian "Parrot," about a poet whose parrot spews prophecies: "Now, including yourself, there are only 13 people left in this town. That's reality, you understand?" The poet examines the town and finds the parrot's words to be true. Returning home, the parrot's mouth (its body has disappeared) exclaims that the other townspeople have died. The poet concludes all that's left for him is to become a parrot. Possibly symbolizing the death of individuality, this story, like the best of the genre, leaves the reader desiring something longer."

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Flash fiction --

Like Palm of the Hand stories by Kawabata.

The Parrot story above is brilliant.

Kyi May Kaung