Critics’ views on Flying Carpet: A Tale of Fertillia
Natalia Chan Sui Hung (Lok Fung): “Historical Imagination and the Construction of Cultural Identity: On Xi Xi’s Flying Carpet and Dung Kai Cheung’s The Atlas”
Xi Xi’s Flying Carpet (1995) is a novel developed from her earlier short piece “The Story of Fertile Soil Town” (1982). It centers on the rise and fall of the Fa family, showcasing Hong Kong history from its earliest days to the 1990s…As a voluminous work of historical reconstruction, it mixes fact and fiction, adopting the structure of myths and allegories combined with a magical realist technique, using the linear succession of a family’s ups and downs, transformations and rebirth, to write a history of the secular life of colonial Hong Kong. In the process of this historical reconstruction, the novel delivers a sense of “provincialism” and “local consciousness.”…The ending of Flying Carpet reveals that within the novel, “Fertile Soil Town” is more of an allegory than an entity, a legendary place of which one may only dream, namely the utopian world of Xi Xi.
From the translator
“In 1996 Xi Xi published Flying Carpet, the last and longest of six tales dwelling on the life of people living in ‘Fei-tu Zhen’. This tri-syllabic Chinese name, literally meaning ‘fertile-soil town’ and generally accepted by critics to be a pseudonym for Hong Kong, is rendered as ‘Fertillia’ in this translation. While Hong Kong’s reunification with China in 1997 may have fueled our author’s imagination and prompted her to explore the subtle link between Fertillia and Dragonland, the main theme must have been conceived considerably earlier, and the result, a novel of 204 sequences dwelling on three generations of a family, is the summation of early thematic material and a breakthrough in scope and complexity.”
– Diana Yue. “Translator’s Introduction: Flying Over Fertillia.” Flying Carpet (HKU Press, 200), p. viii.
(Translations on this page are by Chen Yanyi and Jennifer Feeley)
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