In the opening scene of Liu Zhenyun’s 2017 novel, recently translated into English as Strange Bedfellows by the widely acclaimed translators Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin (some critics have gone so far as to assert that Goldblatt’s translations of Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan are better than the originals), we witness the negotiation of a poor young woman from an unnamed province in southwestern China being sold into marriage. The woman handling the negotiation on the groom’s behalf is Niu Xiaoli, sister of the prospective groom and the focus of much of the narrative that follows. Song Caixia, the new bride, winds up running off five days into the marriage. Together with the matchmaker who introduced them, Niu Xiaoli embarks upon a road trip in an effort to track down her brother’s bride—and winds up losing herself in the process. 

China’s increasingly dominant position in global economic and political affairs has so far not been matched by similar progress in international use of either the Chinese currency or language. This can at times seem curious to some of those charting China’s rise. Jeffrey Gil of Adelaide’s Flinders University offers The Rise of Chinese as a Global Language as an explanation of how at least the latter might finally come about.

Surrealism is something of an outlier in mainstream English fiction, yet it seems to crop up with some frequency in contemporary Chinese-language literature, at least in those works that find themselves in English-translation. This penchant for surrealism can seem even more pronounced, or perhaps concentrated, in the wider Chinese world and diaspora: Dorothy Tse, Hon Lai-Chu and Dung Kai-Cheung in Hong Kong and Malaysia’s Ng Kim Chew being among the practitioners. The surrealism central to this newly-translated collection by Ho Sok Fong fits right in.

Hong Kong can be a curious place. Ghost Love is a new Putonghua-language chamber opera, conceived and written locally, receiving what is—insofar as I can tell—its world premier this weekend, and yet, despite a number of attractive posters placed around town, there is hardly any mention of this in the press or online.