November 29, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Mao’s sarcophagus and other constructions

1 min read

In ‘The Dog,’ Jack Livings writes of a Modernizing China: NYT

Dog“We’re just humble workers, and we can’t defeat physical laws,” a character named Zhou says in the central story in Jack Livings’s stunning debut collection.

It’s September 1976, right after the death of Chairman Mao, and Zhou, a glass expert, has been put in charge of overseeing the construction of a gigantic crystal sarcophagus for the dead leader. He’s told by the vice mayor of Beijing that the goal is to be achieved “within 10 months”: a task, Zhou tries to explain, that is physically impossible, the equivalent of transforming “a pile of flour into a baked loaf of bread” in two minutes.

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