The Beijinger’s Newest Literary Contest Has Produced Comedy Gold

the Beijinger's short story contest

Years of occasionally reading the Beijinger has finally paid off: the magazine has published its funniest piece ever, and they didn’t even have to write it.

Take it away, boys:

We are back with a new short story contest…

Lord have mercy.

You have 140 characters to play with…

They had mercy!

Basically, theme is Beijing, tweet your short story, blah, blah. If you paid attention to last year’s “Six Words” gem like we did, you’ll know that this plays right into the hands of the capital’s expat writers. To wit:

1) They’re lazy.

2) They’re pretentious. Oh boy, if you ever get the chance, eavesdrop on the circle jerk that is the Beijing Writers Group on a Monday evening, held at the lion’s den of affected twaddle, the Bookworm, sometimes hosted by Jonathan Kos-Read.

OK, on with the show. The comments stream on one of the competition posts features contributions from social media users and emailers, dutifully compiled by BJer stalwart Iain Shaw. The question is, are these entries for realsies or is someone having a laugh?

Here’s the first. THE FIRST.

You guys looted it, he spat. We were weak then.
No, said I, I am Serbian. Where the US bombed your embassy.
A cuckoo sang over Yuanming yuan.

A cuckoo sang over Yuanmingyuan. Next up, “Boss-Town” with:

In the distance it echoes and approaches, contagious noise that lights the sky, waging war against “Nian”, the beast of peace and rest.

Been reading Yeats lately? That was quite terrible, but I’m afraid the competition is a little stiff. Let’s see what “MichaelNesbittH” has to say:

As the old woman from Gaomiaocun sat in the spring sun looking into the baby’s blue eyes, she realized that events of 50 years were both profound & an exercise in futility.

I’ll tell you what a profound exercise in futility is: reading these entries. Here’s Bill Bishop (@niubi) with what appears to be some sort of gaokao puzzle:

11pm. haircut. no scissors. police. squatting in room w 19 other men. wife. lawyer. ex wife.

Well, at least it had a narrative. And he didn’t try to make it rhyme. Unlike @IESGlobal:

He landed, felt stranded, but found his way, the same day. Ate baozi (not jiaozi), met a laowai, then said “bye-bye”

Remember – it was a baozi. Not a jiaozi. Crucial detail. Weibo user @richard76uk:

City full of excitement, fun, opportunities, full of cultural values, city of sin and city where west meet east.

Picture me making gurgling, drowning noises. user Helga Tiger:

I Am Jack’s Black Lungs
I Am Jack’s Reduced Personal Space
I Am Jack’s Spit On The Ground
I Am Jack’s Excited Taste Buds

Hit the road, Jack. user orangeleg:

A spaceship from the future lands in Beijing. Inside is someone who looks Chinese. But he speaks with no words and proffers only one message before he dies: “Less more need…”

OK, this guy was definitely huffing Tylenol, right? Later on, some Weibo user imagines the opening of a terrible Bond movie in which Bond appears to be dossing in a hostel:

11:30am. Central, Hong Kong. Top of tower. Mountains visible. IM pei eye level. Slurp water. Swivel chair. Deep breath. Door opening. Pause. “I’ve been expecting you.” chair swivel. “get out of my office.” back to hostel

I assume this will continue all week, and we’ll be watching all the way. We’ll even wank a few out ourselves, exempli gratia:

Clasping at chopsticks, pollution swirls in my veins, slanted faces look on… where is their democracy, democracy, democracy?


The Beijinger’s Beijing Stories contest will accept entries until midnight, March 7. More information here.

    10 Responses to “The Beijinger’s Newest Literary Contest Has Produced Comedy Gold”

    1. brackishwater

      I walked in. Everyone looked. I wasn’t from the WSJ. They went back to discussing their novels over. Lion’s den of affected twaddle.

    2. brackishwater

      Dammit, try again:

      I walked in. Everyone looked. I wasn’t from the WSJ. They went back to discussing their novels. Lion’s den of affected twaddle.

    3. demoncratic

      The old Tibetan monk lays down in the dust, it had stood for a thousand years, but now it too was dust, Why? Why? he asks. The sun sets

    4. Chackie Jan

      The fat old douche brushed a speck of dust off his worn-out jeans and continued to teach, neatly hiding his boner under the school desk.

    5. Wang Fei Fei

      “11pm. haircut. no scissors. police. squatting in room w 19 other men. wife. lawyer. ex wife.”

      i think I got it — getting a haircut at 11 pm… who does that? And no scissors? He was clearly going to one of the local “jack shacks”. Got caught in a sting with other johns/brothel owner guys. Wife divorced him.

    6. Xi Bolai

      Dust fades, horns screech. A child squats and releases his lunch (he ate baozi, not jiaozi) all over the filthy pavement. I love this city.

    7. Missing Demonoid

      Wearily, the migrant worker wiped his leathery hands on filth-encrusted work pants. No money. No life. No wife. No memory. What was it for lunch again – baozi? Or jiaozi?

    8. bag-o-dicks

      Those examples were probably written by Beijinger staff.

      And Anthony, I have to say that pollution, traffic, baijiu and other cliches are the bread and butter of those crappy comics you publish!

    9. Jonathan Heeter

      Do you ever get tired of making fun of the Beijinger? Maybe you could branch out a bit? Could you make fun of the ChinaDailyShow? That would be fun to watch. You could have a meta-satirical China circle jerk.


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