Modern Chinese Literature & Culture has just published Jennifer Feeley’s review of The Pearl Jacket and Other Stories: Flash Fiction From Contemporary China, edited by Shouhua Qi 祁寿华. While there’s a discussion to be had about the relationship, or difference, between flash fiction and prose poetry, Qi’s anthology doesn’t seem to engage in that point (and for what it’s worth, I’d say that Xi Chuan’s prose poems are closer to “flash nonfiction,” anyway). Here’s how Feeley begins her review:
In an age of diminishing attention spans, stories that can be read in the few minutes it takes to wait for the bus, stand in line, or smoke a cigarette are valued for their ability to entertain on demand. Mobile technologies such as text messaging and micro-blogging on cell phones and tablets spur both the production and consumption of this economic genre—the shortest of these works can be contained within a single computer screen or a few text messages. Flash fiction (微型小说), or short-short fiction, is by no means a recent phenomenon, however. Shouhua Qi, editor and translator of The Pearl Jacket and Other Stories: Flash Fiction From Contemporary China, traces its multiple origins thousands of years back to Aesop’s fables from ancient Greece and the Chinese creation myths of Nüwa, Fuxi, and Pangu.