Qiu Miaojin | Bonnie Huie
Qiu Miaojin’s Notes of a Crocodile has been described as “defiant,”“groundbreaking,” and “a cult classic.” Bonnie Huie was awarded a 2012 PEN Translation Fund fellowship for her translation of Qiu’s formally innovative, thematically challenging novel from the Chinese. You can read her translator’s introduction here. Below is an excerpt from the novel.
She had sought me out. I knew it would happen. Even if I had switched to a different section, she would have sought me out all the same. She, who hid in the crowd, who didn’t want anyone to see her behind her veil of averted eyes and aloofness. When I stepped forward, she came out, too. And she pointed and said, revealing a child’s wanton smile: “That’s the one I want.” And like a potted sunflower that had just been sold to a customer, I was taken away. There was no way to refuse. This, from a beautiful girl that I was already deeply, viscerally attracted to. Things were getting good. There she was, standing before me. She brushed the waves of her hair away from her face with a charm that was instantly etched across my heart like a tattoo in one painful scorch. Her feminine radiance was overpowering. I was about to get knocked out of the ring. It was clear that from that moment on, things would never be equal between us. How could they, with me under the table, scrambling to summon a different me, the one she would revere. No way was I coming out.
“What are you doing in here?” I was so anxious that I had to blurt out something. She didn’t say a word or seem the least bit embarrassed.
“Did you switch to this department to make up a class?” She didn’t look up at me. She just stood there, dragging one foot behind her in the hallway, and didn’t say a thing, as if this conversation had nothing to do with her.
“How’d you know I switched?” She abruptly broke her silence. Her eyes were shimmering with amazement, and I could finally look into them. She now gazed back at me, wide-eyed.
“Well, of course I’d know!” I didn’t want her to think I’d been noticing her. “You finally said something!” I said, heaving an exaggerated sigh of relief. She smiled at me shyly, even teasingly, and I let out a huge laugh, relieved that I’d made her smile. Even the most ordinary smile was like rays of sunshine along a golden beach.