'Year of the Panda', a new story by Jonathan Tel

Jonathan Tel
Published in ABR Fiction

She sells her body to save her mother's life. If they made her the star of a reality show, that would be the tagline. The series would end with the mother's funeral; or else with a wedding: the heroine marries a perfect man, and the mother is magically restored to health. She breathes in and out, holding her smile, as she struts along the catwalk which is not really a catwalk - just a zone indicated with masking tape on the hardwood floor of a loft in a warehouse in north-east Beijing.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in ABR Fiction
Jonathan Tel

Jonathan Tel

Jonathan Tel is writing a book of linked stories set in China. These stories have won the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Prize 2016, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2015, and the VS. Pritchett Prize from the Royal Society of Literature 2015. His story 'Year of the Panda' was commended in the 2015 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize. Apart from China, he has lived in Tokyo, Jerusalem, Berlin, London, New York and San Francisco.

Comments (4)

  • Leave a comment

    Loved the part about veins looking like English writing; puts the reader in a Chinese person's shoes. The language is easy on the eyes. Authors can use simple language badly or well, I think it is used well here and reflect the mind of an uneducated Chinese model of twenty five. However, the structure could use some more complexity to balance out the simple language.
    The author takes many liberties with punctuation and sentence structure which simply made me feel happy.
    The resolution does not resolve anything, I felt that there will be a scene following the final one. I like stories that leave me with a satisfying conclusion. That is my personal taste though. When Lan wore the panda suit, I anticipated wild symbolism and a drilling of themes and metaphors into my unconscious through imagery and well woven motifs. But none of that greeted me.

    Wednesday, 07 June 2017 01:55 posted by  Yazan Abu Zaid
  • Leave a comment

    Pretentious, boring and dreadful are three words to mind on reading this piece. Too, did the author skip punctuation lessons at school?

    Monday, 14 November 2016 11:53 posted by  Paul Ralph
  • Leave a comment

    A wonderful read - peppered with surreal word pictures and evoking the gamut of feelings Lan experiences throughout the adventure. Her mother's situation intruding into her current difficult reality added to the story's emotional power.

    Wednesday, 28 September 2016 12:22 posted by  Elin Howe
  • Leave a comment

    Gripped from first sentence until last. Loved the authenticity, especially this line: And the scene dissolves into her mother in bed, the varicose veins on the legs like English writing.

    Friday, 24 June 2016 13:54 posted by  Myra King

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.