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In “A Xi’s Blind Dates,” Chinese writer Yan Xi Zao vividly depicts the everyday life in Southern China, and the spiritual quality of optimism of the hero, A Xi, in harmony with the varying social and cosmic forms taken by fate. The stories and essays of this volume present a Chinese culture from past to present bubbling with vitality and value for today’s emerging cultural paradigm. “A Xi’s Blind Dates” is one of two stories in this volume by Yan Xi Zao, a woman writer from mainland China currently living near Chicago. The hero, A Xi, is an unmarried man in his fifties, whose mother is pressuring him to find a suitable wife to comfort him in his elderly years. The blind dates arranged by a matchmaker dominate the gossip of the country wives at the village well and provide a spark of life in the dreary environment of the spring damp, typical of China’s southern coast. A Xi’s demeanor and optimism in view of his fate reflect the core of the Chinese character in coming to terms with pivots of meaning beyond social discourse. “The Cobbler,” the second story by Yan Xi Zao, presents the life of a working couple running an independent and very small business. In a situation very typical in any of China’s metropolises, Old Zhang the cobbler and his wife are trying to make money in the city to provide a future for their children that they’ve left back home with their own parents. The somber opening scene presents the framework of the story, the cycles of nature, return of life to dust. A tragic scene within this story bears out a fundamentally Chinese world-view, the unity of the spiritual and material facets of existence, the holiness and sacredness of the moment. This online edition does not contain Eileen Chang's "The Blockade" due to copyright restrictions.

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