Translated for the first time in English by Ken Liu, “Spring Festival” is the first short story collection by Xia Jia and it represents an excellent opportunity to discover one of the best writers of contemporary Chinese Speculative Fiction.
“Tongtong’s Summer” revolves around a highly topical issue: the use of androids as support for a rapidly aging population. Xia Jia overturns the prejudice that elderly people are an unnecessary burden to society and imagines a surprising use for care-workers androids called Ah Fu.
“Spring Festival” tells simple stories taken from the daily life of Chinese people in the near future; the five scenes that make up the story correspond to as many emotions: Happiness, Anger, Love, Pain and Joy.
There are few differences imagined by Xia Jia in China’s future: people still follow traditional costumes, celebrating the Zhuazhou (the first birthday of a child) and watch the Spring Festival Gala; mothers invite their daughters to find a husband through matchmaking, old classmates get together to share memories and news while older people hope to live long. Yet something deep and subtle has changed and Xia Jia manages to show – using a gentle and never critical tone – that the influence of technology insinuates itself into the folds of human behavior.
“A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight” is set in the context of Chinese mythology and it looks like a sort of reverse Pinocchio, where a single “true” boy is confronted with the rules of a city entirely populated by strange ghosts. But how things really are? And what’s true and what’s not?
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