Book Details

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    • March 2008
    • 9780231138499
  • 272 Pages
  • 34 Illustrations

  • Paperback
  • $26.00
  • / £18.00


    • October 2006
    • 9780231138482
  • 272 Pages
  • 34 Illustrations

  • Hardcover
  • $80.00
  • / £55.00


Loud Sparrows

Contemporary Chinese Short-Shorts

Selected and translated by Aili Mu, Julie Chiu, and Howard Goldblatt. Preface by Bei Dao

Extremely short stories-known as short-shorts-have become a global phenomenon, but nowhere have they been embraced as enthusiastically as in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The form's artistic and aesthetic freedoms allow authors to capture the tone, texture, and chaos of their rapidly changing societies in infinitely inventive ways. Fragments and contingencies reveal unofficial histories, undocumented memories, and the trials of everyday individuals, and the genre's lean format is a welcome antidote to a culture characterized by rampant excess.

Loud Sparrows is a spirited collection of ninety-one short-shorts written by Chinese authors over the past three decades. Presenting diverse voices and perspectives by writers both well known and new to the art, the stories are culled from newspapers, magazines, literary journals, and personal collections. Their subjects range from the mundane to the sublime and illuminate everything from humanist ideals to traditional virtues to the material benefits of a commercialized society. The anthology is organized into thematic categories such as Change, Creatures, (In)fidelities, Grooming, Governance, Nourishment, and Weirdness, and includes notes to better understand the genre. Each section is introduced by an original piece of flash fiction written by Howard Goldblatt.

The short-short, to borrow a Chinese saying, is "small as a sparrow but has all the vital organs" of a good story. Loud Sparrows offers a comprehensive introduction to a unique literary genre that has revolutionized world literature.

About the Author

Aili Mu is associate professor of Chinese at Iowa State University.

Julie Chiu is assistant professor of translation at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.

Howard Goldblatt is research professor of East Asian languages and literatures at the University of Notre Dame and an internationally renowned translator.

Beautiful and thought-provoking.

The pieces are varied, lively, often charming, and occasionally brilliant.

Perry Link

It's well worth dipping into (repeatedly).

Beautiful and thought-provoking... A breeze of aesthetic freedom flows through all of them, making them fun to read.

Susan Salter

Funny, touching, intriguing and sometimes very beautifully... They are tiny vignettes of Chinese life in all its entire chaotic splendour.

Jenny Niven

Loud Sparrows is a delightful collection of short-shorts.

Steve Noyes