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The first book in the new Calico series from Two Lines Press, That We May Live represents the vanguard of speculative fiction being published in China today with seven stories that are utterly disorienting yet disturbingly familiar A woman impulsively decides to visit her grandmother in a scene reminiscent of “Little Red Riding Hood,” only to find herself in a town of women The first book in the new Calico series from Two Lines Press, That We May Live represents the vanguard of speculative fiction being published in China today with seven stories that are utterly disorienting yet disturbingly familiar A woman impulsively decides to visit her grandmother in a scene reminiscent of “Little Red Riding Hood,” only to find herself in a town of women obsessed with a mysterious fermented beverage. An aging and well-respected female newscaster at a provincial TV station finds herself caught up in an illicit affair with her boss, who insists that she recite the news while they have sex. An anonymous city prone to vanishing storefronts begins to plant giant mushrooms for its citizens to live in, with disastrous consequences. In this first book in the brand-new Calico Series, we bring you work by some of today’s most exciting writers from China and Hong Kong, including Dorothy Tse (tr. Natascha Bruce), Zhu Hui (tr. Michael Day), and Enoch Tam (tr. Jeremy Tiang). Lightly touching on issues of urbanization, sexuality, and propaganda, the collection builds a world both utterly disorienting and disturbing familiar, prompting the question: Where does reality end and absurdity begin in a world pushed to its very limits?


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The first book in the new Calico series from Two Lines Press, That We May Live represents the vanguard of speculative fiction being published in China today with seven stories that are utterly disorienting yet disturbingly familiar A woman impulsively decides to visit her grandmother in a scene reminiscent of “Little Red Riding Hood,” only to find herself in a town of women The first book in the new Calico series from Two Lines Press, That We May Live represents the vanguard of speculative fiction being published in China today with seven stories that are utterly disorienting yet disturbingly familiar A woman impulsively decides to visit her grandmother in a scene reminiscent of “Little Red Riding Hood,” only to find herself in a town of women obsessed with a mysterious fermented beverage. An aging and well-respected female newscaster at a provincial TV station finds herself caught up in an illicit affair with her boss, who insists that she recite the news while they have sex. An anonymous city prone to vanishing storefronts begins to plant giant mushrooms for its citizens to live in, with disastrous consequences. In this first book in the brand-new Calico Series, we bring you work by some of today’s most exciting writers from China and Hong Kong, including Dorothy Tse (tr. Natascha Bruce), Zhu Hui (tr. Michael Day), and Enoch Tam (tr. Jeremy Tiang). Lightly touching on issues of urbanization, sexuality, and propaganda, the collection builds a world both utterly disorienting and disturbing familiar, prompting the question: Where does reality end and absurdity begin in a world pushed to its very limits?

30 review for That We May Live

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    "The essential idea behind Calico is, let's talk to the translators... find out what's interesting, what's not being published in English, what's percolating in other parts of the world that we haven't heard about yet. THAT WE MAY LIVE is a collection of speculative Chinese fiction... of unnerving, uncanny, weird stories about urbanization and late capitalism." - Chad Felix of Two Lines Press in this interview. I've been reading these stories very slowly, just one every few days/weeks or so, sinc "The essential idea behind Calico is, let's talk to the translators... find out what's interesting, what's not being published in English, what's percolating in other parts of the world that we haven't heard about yet. THAT WE MAY LIVE is a collection of speculative Chinese fiction... of unnerving, uncanny, weird stories about urbanization and late capitalism." - Chad Felix of Two Lines Press in this interview. I've been reading these stories very slowly, just one every few days/weeks or so, since I shelved it next to my computer where I work all the time. They definitely feel like they are in conversation with other works from Asia, particularly South Korea, but that connection may be more about what has been translated vs. what hasn't been. Sour Meat by Dorothy Tse A surreal story about a stinky brew, also about women's bodies... would have loved some editor or translator notes with some context as it seems intentionally sexual as if it is trying to push boundaries, but what are the boundaries in China, I don't know.... Auntie Han's Modern Life by Enoch Tam "Every time she came home, she felt as if it were to a different house on a different street." garden-keepers cultivating skyscrapers houses that move, houses that are depressed Lip Service by Zhu Hui Oof! A punchy tale of what a naturally beautiful woman has to be willing to do to stay on top. The Elephant by Chan Chi Wa Clearly in conversation with "The Elephant Vanishes" by Haruki Murakami, the narrator of this story has a similar emotional experience about an elephant but it has the added layer of living in a state of surveillance. The Mushroom Houses Proliferated in District M by Enoch Tam Continuing the themes of the earlier story by the same author, it's about the garden keepers and their war with the mushrooms. A Counterfeit Life by Chen Si'an "He started roaming around every corner of the city, searching for those spots in which people being waited for might fail to show up." Flourishing Beasts by Yan Ge Are you a [woman] or are you a [beast]?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    That We May Live IS a collection of Chinese speculative fiction in translation from Two Lines Press’ new Calico Series. It features seven short stories by six contemporary Chinese writers. Normally I’d share the name of the editor but here no editors’ names are specified anywhere in the book. Aren’t anthologies meant to have a preface or afterword? Without anything except the stories themselves and short bios of the authors and translators, this collection feels a bit adrift, with no context for That We May Live IS a collection of Chinese speculative fiction in translation from Two Lines Press’ new Calico Series. It features seven short stories by six contemporary Chinese writers. Normally I’d share the name of the editor but here no editors’ names are specified anywhere in the book. Aren’t anthologies meant to have a preface or afterword? Without anything except the stories themselves and short bios of the authors and translators, this collection feels a bit adrift, with no context for its existence. ⁣ ⁣ That aside, I did enjoy reading this collection. The stories were varied in how much they appealed to me, but since it's an anthology collecting work from multiple authors I was always excited to read the next one. This book is also immaculately constructed, for those aesthetically-minded among you, the bright orange title pages for each of the stories are beautiful, and I loved how they incorporate the title, author, translator, and a quote from each story.⁣ ⁣ These stories are not speculative in a straightforward SFF sense, they are surreal tales that often left me unsure about the takeaway, yet more often than not emotionally impacted. I feel these stories certainly speak to a cultural context that I’m unfamiliar with, and likely operate on a metaphorical level to which I’m missing the references. (Another reason I would have appreciated some commentary from an editor or the translators.) It stands alone fairly successfully nonetheless, and I’m so glad I picked up this collection to get these strange and fascinating tastes of the included authors’ writing. ⁣ ⁣ My favorite stories were the first and last. Sour Meat by Dorothea Tse, translated by Natascha Bruce is one of the most unsettling stories I’ve read in a while, reminding me of Carmen Maria Machado or Samanta Schweblin. Flourishing Beasts by Yan Ge, translated by Jeremy Tiang, is a delicate and intriguing tale about these beings who grow from the earth like saplings and are cut down to be carved into beautiful furniture. I am excited after these introductions to seek out more of these two authors' work especially. ⁣

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dree

    Some of these stories are solid 4-star stories. Most are fine. A couple are 2-stars. My two favorites: A Counterfeit Life by Chen Si'an: about a man who accidentally discovers he can make a good living by pretending to be the person others are waiting for it. It starts when he is mistaken for a late wedding MC. By loitering around different places and dressing in certain ways, he discovers people will often assume he is the person they are waiting for. He gets more daring and braver, and can pull Some of these stories are solid 4-star stories. Most are fine. A couple are 2-stars. My two favorites: A Counterfeit Life by Chen Si'an: about a man who accidentally discovers he can make a good living by pretending to be the person others are waiting for it. It starts when he is mistaken for a late wedding MC. By loitering around different places and dressing in certain ways, he discovers people will often assume he is the person they are waiting for. He gets more daring and braver, and can pull of just about everything. And then he begins recruiting others that are down on their luck--just as he was--to do the same sort of thing. Flourishing Beasts by Yan Ge: About a species of woman/tree, who live and are raised at The Temple of the Antiquities. They have human women there to help tend them, as the main character's mother did when she was a young woman. ———— Lip Service by Zhu Hui: there are quite a few sentences here that would fit right in on r/menwritingwomen The Mushroom Houses Proliferated in District M by Enoch Tam: Interesting, but mushrooms are NOT plants (translation issue or from the original?). Mushrooms are fungi, and are actuaklly more closely related to humans than to plants. So, yeah.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    An oddly creepy anthology of contemporary short fiction from China and Hong Kong. A couple of stories didn't quite land with me, but the ones that did were wonderful. I love what Two Lines Press is doing with this book and can't wait to see what's next in their Calico series.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    It's always neat to be exposed to new cultures in translation and this is no exception. Calico, the new series from Two Lines, is off to an amazing start with THAT WE MAY LIVE -- a strange spin on temp work, stories of a city where its alphabetical districts have strange features like mushroom houses, an eerie fermented beverage that gives new meaning to "with the Mother", and more. I didn't love every story and found a few translation moments to be clunky, but on the whole this is a killer star It's always neat to be exposed to new cultures in translation and this is no exception. Calico, the new series from Two Lines, is off to an amazing start with THAT WE MAY LIVE -- a strange spin on temp work, stories of a city where its alphabetical districts have strange features like mushroom houses, an eerie fermented beverage that gives new meaning to "with the Mother", and more. I didn't love every story and found a few translation moments to be clunky, but on the whole this is a killer start to what will hopefully be a must-read series from Two Lines.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Flourishing Beasts: 4 stars. I'd be interested in reading more work by Yan Ge. I didn't like any of the other stories. To me a lot of them read like weirdness for the sake of being weird, and that seems to me like a writerly version of gluttony. Maybe I'm just not the right audience. (Although Lip Service was a decidedly awful story imo.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Delany Holcomb

    I absolutely love speculative Chinese fiction, and this anthology definitely whet that particular appetite. Tales of absolute obscurity that enchant and entice, "That We May Live" is a beautifully woven collection that I recommend to everyone that loves the blending of absurdity and reality. This is definitely a collection for fans of Karen Russell, Max Porter, and Emily Tesh.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Since 1994, Two Lines Press has published translations, first as a biannual journal, then quarterly, and then the quarterly journal plus half-a-dozen books a year. With "That We May Live," they introduce a new series, Calico, that focuses on "one moment of the present moment" (whatever that means), in this case, seven "speculative fictions" from six contemporary Chinese authors, three from the mainland, three from Hong Kong. "Speculative fiction" here means something like the tales from "The Twi Since 1994, Two Lines Press has published translations, first as a biannual journal, then quarterly, and then the quarterly journal plus half-a-dozen books a year. With "That We May Live," they introduce a new series, Calico, that focuses on "one moment of the present moment" (whatever that means), in this case, seven "speculative fictions" from six contemporary Chinese authors, three from the mainland, three from Hong Kong. "Speculative fiction" here means something like the tales from "The Twilight Zone": often realistic, but with touch of the fable—minus ferries and elves—and its moral. The writing and translating here is fine, but the tales are hit-or-miss, especially if your taste for the speculative is usually indifferent. Alienation is a common theme—from work, from history, from domestic life, from familial and cultural expectations—and relevant to vanishing traditions (increasingly delegated to fading memory) and the encroaching sense that individual lives do not matter.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kaileigh

    Pleasantly mind-altering, troubling. I read these each day before bed. I liked each story, it was like eating through a box of candies you've never heard of. Nice blend for a short story collection, you can feel that it comes together into one but at the same time the stories are very different. I was impressed with the humor and subtlety coming through the translations. There are a few that have haunted me for days afterwards, though I've enjoyed the haunting. They have lead me to interesting t Pleasantly mind-altering, troubling. I read these each day before bed. I liked each story, it was like eating through a box of candies you've never heard of. Nice blend for a short story collection, you can feel that it comes together into one but at the same time the stories are very different. I was impressed with the humor and subtlety coming through the translations. There are a few that have haunted me for days afterwards, though I've enjoyed the haunting. They have lead me to interesting thoughts and moods. Very nice collection.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sascha

    the final story, Flourishing Beasts by Yan Ge, is truly a stand out and worth the price of the book, though Sour Meat by Dorothy Tse and Auntie Han's Modern Life by Enoch Tam are also great reads. Sometimes I wondered if the translation caused some of the writing to fall flat, and a couple stories felt like they went completely over my head, but I liked the ones mentioned previously and could at least appreciate parts of the others.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)

    This surrealist collection of short stories was a bit of a miss for me - some of the imagery I found inventive (particularly Sour Meat and The Mushroom Houses Proliferated in District M), but it didn’t leave a lasting impact on me. I also think it would have benefited from an editorial note as the collection together felt a little fragmented.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sean Callaghan

    These stories were a pleasure to read. Reading scifi, I tend to get numb to the finer joys that can come out of other genres. This was all very delicate and strange and enjoyable to read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  14. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Draper

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia

  16. 5 out of 5

    Karla Strand

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andy Fredrickson

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karin Lee

  19. 4 out of 5

    Louise Chen

  20. 4 out of 5

    Two Lines Press

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  22. 4 out of 5

    Luke Tokman

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  27. 4 out of 5

    cold green tea

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Deborah K.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Allie

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