Tabby isn’t an ordinary house-cat. Though he’s the most beautiful, captivating animal to grace the rooftops of Nanjing, Tabby is also prone to unpredictable outbursts of clawing and scratching, and to raging incontinence, and he has a slightly out-of-control flea problem.
But he is beloved. And despite the trouble he causes with the neighbors, the sleepless nights he forces their aging mother to suffer through, and the wedge he nearly drives between the narrator’s brother and his wife, Tabby becomes the singular obsession of the entire household. In fact, life outside of Tabby fades into insignificance, and he soon wields a beguiling, incomprehensible, and inescapable dominion over them all.
Written with verve and a slightly twisted comic imagination for readers of Takashi Hiraide or Haruki Murakami, A Tabby-cat’s Tale is as delightful as it is charming.
Han Dong was born in 1961 in Nanjing, China. His parents were banished to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, taking him with them. When the Cultural Revolution ended, he studied philosophy at Shandong University, graduating in 1982. Han Dong has been a major player on the modern Chinese literary scene since the 1990s, and his first novel Banished! (2003) was translated into English in 2009.
'Shi Cheng is a sort of mind map of both modern China, and also of what it’s like to be human.' - Asian Books Blog
To the West, China may appear an unstoppable economic unity, a single high-performing whole, but for the inhabitants of this vast, complex and contradictory nation, it is the cities that hold the secret to such economic success. From the affluent, Westernised Hong Kong to the ice-cold Harbin in the north, from the Islamic quarters of Xi’an to the manufacturing powerhouse of Guangzhou - China’s cities thrum with promise and aspiration, playing host to the myriad hopes, frustrations and tensions that define China today.
The stories in this anthology offer snapshots of ten such cities, taking in as many different types of inhabitant. Here we meet the lowly Beijing mechanic lovingly piecing together his first car from scrap metal, somnambulant commuters at a Nanjing bus-stop refusing to acknowledge the presence of a dead body just metres away, or Shenyang intellectuals conducting a letter-writing campaign on the moral welfare of their city. The challenges depicted in these stories are uniquely Chinese, but the energy and ingenuity with which their authors approach them is something readers everywhere can marvel at.