Hand Scroll (introduced by Chan Chi Tak)
Hand Scroll is a collection of eleven short stories from the 1980s, including “The Chronicles from the Floating City”, “Trivia about Hedgehogs”, “The Prize”, “The Case of Mali”, “The Legend of Chalk Circle in Fertile Soil Town”, “Bowring” (a.k.a. “Fu Tei”), and others. Among these are “The Chronicles from the Floating City” and “The Legend of Chalk Circle in Fertile Soil Town” which are often discussed by critics. “Marvels of a Floating City”, a fable of a floating rootless city, pairs thirteen famous western paintings with thirteen groups of independent paragraphs. Through the poignant imagery of the peculiar “bird grass”, the story reflects on the pain of losing one’s roots and inquires into the cause of colonisation; through “mirror”, it brings out the understanding of one’s history and origin; through “child prodigy” and “window”, it opens up the possibility of new cultural creations and conversations.
Integrating western theatre with Chinese classic opera, “The Legend of Chalk Circle in Fertile Soil Town” adapts scenes from the Yuan opera (zaju) The Chalk Circle and Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Centered on a custody dispute, it enquires into the validity of authority and raises questions about identity and autonomy. “Bowring”, which is much less discussed, was inspired by Tuen Mun Bowring Closed Refugee Camp. Employing a zoo’s “wire fence” as the core image, the story starts and ends with “wire fence” and initiates thoughts around it. Different types of wire fences at different locations talked about throughout the story, including wire fences at a refugee camp, wire fences at a zoo, wire fences at a country’s borders, even wire fences in each person’s heart.
In September 1987, Xi Xi’s novella “Hand Scroll” was first published in the 35th issue of Unitas, a monthly literary magazine in Taiwan. In October 1988, Hand Scroll was awarded the Literary Prize for Fiction by China Times, Taiwan.