Beijing Sprawl | Mechanics' Institute

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Beijing Sprawl
by Xu Zechen

Wednesday, May 1, 2024 - 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

On Wednesday, May 1 (from 12:00-12:45 pm PT), join us for an introductory discussion online with Jeremy Tiang (Singapore/New York City), who translated Beijing Sprawl from Chinese into English. Dive into the rich tapestry of global literature with this inaugural meeting for our Contemporary Translated Works book group, presented in partnership with the Center for the Art of Translation. This literary journey begins with Beijing Sprawl by Xu Zechen (China), a narrative that invites you to explore the vibrant heart of contemporary Chinese fiction.

On Wednesday, June 5 (from 12:00-1:15 pm PT), readers who want to discuss this book have the option to re-gather for our book group discussion either online (on Zoom at the same link as before) or onsite (in the 4th Floor Board Room at Mechanics' Institute). Together, we will delve deeper into Beijing Sprawl. Continue this literary adventure with us, discovering the stories that connect us across cultures and languages through translation.

The Contemporary Translated Works book group explores languages, cultures, and the art of translation through contemporary literature. Beijing Sprawl, our May selection, celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

You can get a discounted copy of Beijing Sprawl by using the following coupon codes:

  • C6EUV3ZNship - for 20% off Beijing Sprawl, shipped to your home ($5.99 shipping)
  • C6EUV3ZNpickup - for 20% off Beijing Sprawl, to be picked up at the circulation desk of the 2nd Floor Library at Mechanics’ Institute

About Beijing Sprawl and the Book's Author

Muyu, a seventeen-year-old from a small village, came to Beijing for his piece of the money, love, a good life. But in the city, daily life for him and his friends—purveyors of fake IDs and false papers—is a careful balance of struggle and guile. Surveying the neighborhood from the rooftop of the apartment they all share; the young men play cards, drink beer, and discuss their hopes and aspirations. They watch as others like them—workers, students, drifters, and the just plain unlucky—get by the best ways they know by jogging excessively, herding pigeons, or building cars from scraps. As years pass with no end of the struggle in sight, dreams change shape and slowly recede into the horizon.

Beijing Sprawl once again proves Xu Zechen to be one of our best chroniclers of those left behind by the Chinese Dream. In these gritty, interconnected stories, starkly translated from Chinese by Eric Abrahamsen and Jeremy Tiang, of street fights, disappearances, and unfulfilled romances, his characters and the city of Beijing itself come into vivid focus. And for Muyu, like so many of us in the modern world, friendship is rare and unexpected amid the sprawl of progress, and more valuable than an unreachable goal.

Jeremy Tiang is a novelist, playwright and Sinophone translator. Recent translations include Liu Xinwu's The Wedding Party, which was shortlisted for the National Translation Award, as well as novels by Zhang Yueran, Shuang Xuetao, Lo Yi-Chin, Yan Ge, and Yeng Pway Ngon. Their novel State of Emergency won the Singapore Literature Prize in 2018. Earlier this year they were the Princeton University Translator-in-Residence, and served on the jury of the International Booker Prize. Originally from Singapore, they live in Flushing, Queens.

Cancellation Policy

We reserve the right to cancel at any time and issue a full refund. If you are unable to attend this event, please email [email protected] or call 415-393-0103 by Monday, April 29, 2024, to receive a full refund less any non-refundable ticketing fees which may be applicable. All fees must be paid at the time of registration. After Monday, April 29, 2024, no refunds will be issued.

Book Groups

Members Free
Non-Members/Public $10
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Offsite: See description for location
Nico Chen - 415-393-0103
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