Category Archive: Peony Author Press

After the Olympics Left

As London adjusts after the close of the 2012 Olympics writers including A Yi, Santiago Roncagilolo and Masha Gessen, reflect on how their cities have changed – for better and for worse – since hosting the Games.

A Yi

Beijing, 2008

I rented a house in an old block of flats, and you could see Dawang Road from the window. Any minute of any hour, any time whether it was night or day, there were cars racing to and fro on the road. The cars appeared in my dreams like two columns of bullets shooting at each other. I slept very badly. One day, I opened my door to a bunch of guys who wanted to come in. A short while later they had taken down all the old windows in the house and replaced them with brand-new ones made from an aluminum alloy. I didn’t have to pay for the work and neither did my landlord; even today I’m not aware of who did. By the time the Beijing Olympics came, if the people in those cars on Dawang Road happened to look up, they wouldn’t have seen any old buildings. Ever since we hosted the Olympics, the sky has often turned very blue and even today it’s still very blue, whereas before the Olympics, leaving the house was sometimes akin to taking a swim in a melancholy ocean of grey.

Translated by Alice Xin Liu.

Note: Dawang Road is a centrally located and commercial area in Beijing.

ChinaFile: Mao’s Way or the Paris Runway?


There are two ways to brand in China for Chinese fashion labels.

One is to go abroad — as the Chinese say, the flower smells better beyond the walls; sort of our way of saying the grass is greener on the other side. Designers believe that international acceptance will bring them recognition in the domestic market. Following this strategy is Marsha Ma, who is now permanently part of the Paris Fashion Week calendar. Following in Marsha’s foot steps, designer Vega Wang will be showing in Milan in September.

 Click here to read more »

China’s great leap forward: The Flowers of War is the country’s most expensive film ever and – starring Christian Bale – it proves Beijing can give Hollywood a run for its money


Verdict: Stunning, moving epic

The flowers of war film

Click here to read more »

Chukka for love


By Paul Mooney


With historical evidence that the ancient Persians and Chinese played versions of the sport centuries ago, there are competing claims for the title of cradle of polo. One compelling theory traces its origins to the nomads of Central Asia who spread it from the Mongolian steppes in the east to the shores of the Caspian Sea in the west. Yet it wasn’t until recently that polo found a footing in modern-day Mongolia.

Click here to read more »

Rubble in paradise


By Paul Mooney


Architects’ training often instils them with a strong conservationist streak. Hwang Eu-fung, however, has taken hers to an extreme. Eight years ago, she abandoned her flat, BMW and job with an architectural firm in San Francisco to move into a dilapidated house in the remote Yunnan town of Zhongdian.


‘People here never destroyed or sold their houses because they felt they had been given to them by their ancestors,’ Hwang says. Click here to read more »

Darkness at noon


By Paul Mooney


Ni Yulan sits on her bed tapping away at her laptop as her husband Dong Jiqin skitters about the dingy hotel room lighting candles before the last rays of the sun fade on a recent grey, cold day in Beijing. It is the 37th day since Beijing police cut off the electricity to the couple’s room, and the 16th day without water. The disconnections are an attempt to drive the couple from the dilapidated hotel that police once confined them to. Click here to read more »