Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang
I don’t quite remember how Love in a Fallen City came to me—I want to pin this on Eva, but I can’t be sure. But this collection of novellas sounded quite interesting, and I’ve rarely read anything set in China, let alone written by the celebrated Eileen Chang (whose name you might also see Romanticized Ai-ling Chang or Aileen Zhang), who wrote during the Second World War and the rise of the Communist Party in China. I normally don’t read novellas, but I decided, after the fantasy burnout of December ’10, it was time to pick up something completely new to me.
Recently, I watched a magnificent video that really drove home the underlying racism in Joss Whedon’s Firefly, a space western. While I’ve been just as concerned about the racism in the live action production of Avatar: The Last Airbender (behold as the two Inuit characters turn sparklingly white!), Firefly has the real life analogue of the Wild West. That’s really all I have to explain this week’s selections for The Literary Horizon–a selection of short stories by a celebrated Chinese author finally in English after several decades, and a book about the Chinese and the American railway.