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Dragonworld: Four Short Stories from China

Past Event

Join us and Paper Republic for an evening of speed-book clubbing!

If you love exploring the world, storytelling and books, join us on our monthly fictional journey that’s just as rewarding as (and less exhausting than) the real thing. Whether you’re a London local or new to the city, come and connect with others who want to see the world with fresh eyes and open minds.

A police officer investigating a brutal murder interrogates his chief suspect, but the details of the crime itself are constantly shifting. A woman hopes a knight in shining armour will offer her an escape from the road she seems destined to pace forever. A dispute between two witnesses to a killing results in a fatal duel. A teenage gamer must find a way to deal with the concrete-hungry dragons that are somehow taking over his town.

Acts of violence punctuate these four works of contemporary Chinese fiction, but as the stories unfold it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate fantasy from reality, the dream from the conscious. The rhythms of genre fiction are echoed and distorted in these category-defying tales of death, desire, and despair.

Following our sell-out speed-book clubbing event in March, Read Paper Republic is delighted to be partnering with Free Word for a follow-up event with a fantastical flavour.

How to Speed-Book Club


  • Download the stories (below) and read as much as you can. Don’t worry if you don’t finish all four – there’s a sneaky Cheat Sheet here so you can still join in.

On the night:

  • Four experienced translators will lead four groups simultaneously. We’ll be joined by Nicky Harman, Dave Haysom, Emily Jones and Helen Wang.
  • Discuss one story for 20 minutes, then move onto the next.
  • Discuss the subject, the style, the writing, the authors and the translation.

The Stories, The Authors, The Translators

Click on the titles to read the stories.

Read Paper Republic is an ambitious project run by the Paper Republic collective of Chinese-to-English literary translators. We’ve committed to publishing a weekly short story (or poem or essay) translated from Chinese. Our first year ran from June 2015-June 2016. Our second series, Afterlives, starts in Halloween week. Four of the Read Paper Republic translators will be at this event.

On the second Monday of each month, meet writers from around the world and hear them talk about their work. We also focus on their translators who help these books travel and open up discussions that cross the globe. Free Word provides a friendly space for you to ask questions of writers and translators as they share an exclusive insight into the creative process of storytelling.

Click here to explore the Wanderlust events we’ve held so far and read about (and around) some of the books we’ve featured.

You can also visit Free Word’s Wanderlust playlist on SoundCloud; we record each event so that you never have to miss out.



Nicky Harman translates Chinese fiction, essays and poetry. Her most recent publication is Crystal Wedding (Balestier, 2016), longlisted for the FT Oppenheimer Emerging Voices Award.

Dave Haysom is a translator and editor of Pathlight, a quarterly journal of Chinese literature in translation. He has also written for publications such as Words Without Borders and China Dialogue.

Emily Jones’ most recent translation is Black Holes (Penguin China, 2014), a thriller by professor of law and novelist He Jiahong.

Helen Wang translates for both adults and younger readers, her most recent book being the children’s novel Bronze and Sunflower by CAO Wenxuan (Walker Books, 2015).

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