Translated from: English
Authors: Chiew-Siah Tei
Translated by: Gudelytė, Kristina
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 2009
The end of XIX century, Plum Blossom village, China.Mingzhi, the oldest grandson of master Chai, has his all life planned ahead of him from the moment he was born – he is meant to become a mandarin. Since childhood the boy is immersed in Chinese traditional writing culture and philosophical studies, but the hunger for different kind of knowledge is not foreign to him, too. He is more than willing to study Confucianism, calligraphy and other arts. In the school Mingzhi is the best student. In addition he also wants to learn of the world that is behind the guarded walls of customs and traditions of Chinese culture boundaries. Pity, but the boy is forced to spend his childhood and adolescent years in a secluded world of his family, where his grandfather is regulating all the lives and matters while bumping his dragon staff. Maturing teenager starts to despise the rotten life of the mansion – instead of rice cultivating opium poppies, harsh and cruel behavior with the servants, around the mansion lurking shadows of treachery and insidiousness.
Along with the foreign devils to China comes novelties from the West. In Pindong, big city, where Mingzhi comes to study for his exams of higher rank official, the boy meets English missionary, father Terry. Then he begins to study English, read foreign books about geography, history, astronomy, which helps to broaden his horizons. Mingzhi, because of his intense curiosity and want to learn, becomes stranded in a crossroads in a rapidly changing world where he has to choose between the past and the future.
Master Chai’s dream comes true when his grandson becomes a mandarin. But Mingzhi’s life, even after escaping the mansion and his grandfateher, doesn’t cease of misfortune. In the city of Pindong appears a gang of thugs, who are led by envious Mingzhi’s brother, Mingjuan. China suffers from calamity because of foreigners, which soon turns to riots and end with murders and burning of Churches. In the end, Mingzhi decides to leave China with his friend Martin. By doing so, he leaves everything behind.
Chiew-Shia Tei was born and grew up in a small city of Tampin in South Malaysia. In the ninety’s she left to study in Great Britain and now she is still living in Glasgow. Little hut of leaping fishes is a first novel of her and in 2007 year it won a Man Asian Literary Prize.