How to tell if you’re in a Chinese novel


Trapped in a world of endless classical allusion and non-stop eating? A rural backwater filled with sexual gossip and oddly colorful characters? Relax: You might simply be a character in a Chinese novel. Look out for these signs – if you recognize six or more, chances are you’re about as real as, like, whatever…. provincial GDP figures

These people are your friends

These guys are your friends and neighbors

  • Everyone around you is called something like Fatty Li, Ming the Blacksmith or Dogface Wang
  • You have an annoying, lascivious sidekick
  • You’re a failed scholar who has spent years studying for the imperial exams, accumulating more arcane trivia than the average American grad student but have not a single tael to your name
  • Relations with the servant classes are akin to Downton Abbey, but with added torture, sodomy and complaints about the good old Song days
  • You often find yourself dreaming of peony blossoms in spring, the moon at the mountain’s gate, the crane flying east past a silvery sky – even though you’ve never left your suburb in Zhengzhou
  • You have an annoying, lascivious sidekick
  • You spend an astonishing amount of time obsessing over household rituals and overly elaborate meals
  • An attractive young widow you fancy turns out to be a malevolent fox spirit
  • The woman you thought was your mother is, in fact, her kind-hearted abortionist
  • That group of vile-tempered murderous bandits introduced in chapter three are actually the heroes
  • Your life could be transposed to any period over the last nine centuries and not that much would really change
  • You have an annoying, lascivious sidekick

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