REVIEW: “Ah Fang’s Lamp” by Wang Anyi

Review of Wang Anyi, Helen Wang (trans.), “Ah Fang’s Lamp”, in Jin Li and Dai Congrong, ed., The Book of Shanghai, (Comma Press, 2020): 1-8 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

Ah Fang hangs her lamp outside her door, to sell fruits and vegetables to passers-by, changing the entire life of the street, in the eyes of the unnamed narrator who walks the street daily and weaves their “own beautiful fairy tale, which, on grey or rainy days, inspires [them] not to be disheartened” (p. 8).

The story itself doesn’t have any speculative elements to it, but it was full of finely crafted details that made me get a real sense of the space and the place, something I struggle with sometimes, due to mild aphantasia. Normally I gloss over a lot of written description, but here, I really felt like a few well-placed words conjured up vivid pictures.

(First published in People’s Daily Overseas Edition, 2018.)