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A Girl Like Me and Other Stories

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By Xi Xi, Various translators
Afterword by Stephen C. Soong
1996. 134 PAGES.

These ten stories by Xi Xi, the pen name for Zhang Yan, are explorations of settings, themes, and characters which should be of interest to students of Asian literature, culture and society. The back cover states, “There is in these stories a haunting . . . lyricism, an intense feminine sensitivity, reacting to the unique environment of Hong Kong . . .” the city where this contemporary writer, born in Shanghai, has lived since 1950. Xi Xi (pronounced Si Si) was a primary school teacher, and her simple, clear style conveys a childlike simplicity which will appeal to high school students. Yet her themes and content are provocative and informative, and so in these stories high school as well as college students can study the fusion of East and West in universal themes that are treated from an Asian perspective, and flavored with the author’s English-style education. Stephen Soong writes in the afterword, “Building a House: Introducing Xi Xi,” “[She] is very much a writer in ‘Made in Hong Kong.’ . . . Xi Xi grew up in a free society, a society with its own unique pattern of development. . . . But the problems Xi Xi touches upon are those most Chinese are concerned with: the causes of political order and disorder, the relationship between ruler and people, etc.” (133–34).