The following is an excerpt from Quincy Caroll’s recently completed novel, Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside. The first chapter was awarded 1st Place in Medium.com’s 2012 Fiction Writing Contest. At the moment, he is trying to find a home for it. In this excerpt, Daniel, a young idealist stationed in rural Hunan, visits his friend, Neil, in Changsha. 

He woke up early the next morning and packed his toiletries in the dark, brushing his teeth in the cold of the bathroom, feeding the chickens, clearing the sink. The streets were empty save for a noodle cart, and, but for a grayness above the hills, there was little to be seen as he trudged across town. He bought some baozi from a man with one good eye on Jiuyi Lu and responded to all of the vendor’s questions regarding life in the West. The cost of goods. The balance of power. The habits of black people. The weather. The food. The vendor’s eyelid was folded shut, in the manner of a boxer who had just lost a fight, and this gave him a strange look of misgiving as he counted Daniel’s change. He listened to what the boy said, nodding at times, and, when Daniel left, he wished him safe travels, inviting him to visit once he was back.