Introduction 1: What Else is in the Desert Except for Sand


Merebear note: Just wanted to let you all know that this is the online version from so it differs slightly from the published version I did back on 5/8/2020 (different perspective, a few sentences missing, difference in wording on some things, etc). Enjoy!


(Interviewee: Guan Gen, 20XX-XX-XX, Apple Daily)

I first met Lan Ting at a cross-strait tea party held in Xiamen. I’ve completely forgotten the contents of the tea party, but I do remember that it was a forum on jadeite that was very boring. I wasn’t really into jadeite and collecting this kind of thing was merely a last-minute scheme, so I slipped out during the tea break. At that time, the number of people sneaking out with me wasn’t small, and she happened to be one of them.

As the two of us were chatting in the lounge outside, we found that we were both writers, but I had already changed my profession and become a publisher while she was still suffering as a writer.

The reason why we got along so well at that time was probably because we had so many things in common: the same stormy childhood; some of the same helpless experiences… the so-called “two people with the same happiness are not as good as two people with the same suffering” resonated with us, and we soon began to have a heart-to-heart.

Of course, I couldn’t deny that the other reason why we were completely open with each other was because Lan Ting was a very charming woman. It was hard not to be impressed by her ethereal and coquettish beauty. It was a pity that I was no longer a little boy. Although this kind of charm made me happy, it couldn’t make me like her any more than that.

After parting, we became good friends. She enjoyed sending me bell cakes from Taiwan every two months like clockwork. She also asked me to send her Hangzhou mung bean cakes in return at the same frequency. We tried to change the brand of the cake each time and exchanged our experiences with each other during that period.

We maintained this kind of relationship for three years, which I found especially touching. In today’s society, few people were able to do one thing so persistently and for such a long time. I thought this kind of communication could last for even longer, but at the end of that year, her package didn’t come for the first time.

This surprised me quite a bit. I didn’t know how many trips I made to the post office that month, but I was disappointed every time. I wanted to ask her what had happened but found that I couldn’t get a hold her, either on the internet or over the phone.

I originally suspected that her publisher had been pressuring her for quicker updates so she was simply avoiding all calls—this was a common tactic writers used against their publishers—but there was still no news after two months. Sometime later, I heard from a friend in Taiwan that she had been confirmed missing in April of that year. Someone had seen her leave her house, but she never came back.

At that time, she still had two contracted articles that hadn’t been completed yet. When the police entered her house, they found that her laptop had been on for more than two months. The writing program was still pulled up on the screen, so it was obvious that she had headed out suddenly in the middle of writing.

No one knew where she went. She simply disappeared.

I didn’t know what had happened to her, and I felt worried and helpless. Based on my relationship with her, there didn’t seem to be much more I could do either, so I could only pay attention to the news and silently pray for her. As the days passed by, I soon forgot this whole situation.

I thought it might end like this, but I didn’t expect that I would suddenly receive a big package from her a year later. The parcel was delivered a few days ago from Taiwan, and there were six big boxes of bell cakes inside, along with a thick stack of manuscript paper.

I was so overjoyed that I immediately called her and learned that she had already returned to Taiwan and was now very safe. I asked her what had happened during that period of time, but she acted very vague and refused to tell me. Instead, she asked me to read her novel. I couldn’t help but smile as I picked up the stack of papers. At this time, countless fine grains of sand fell down from the gaps in the papers.

This was the first time I saw “Sand Sea”.

It was a story about a desert, but it was difficult to determine what genre it belonged to. I read it while leaning up against the package and eating the bell cakes. When I reached the end, I had already decided that it would be a masterpiece, because as soon as I emerged from the novel, I felt extremely thirsty and it even seemed like the smell of the desert remained in my nose.

I later asked her if the novel about the desert had really been written while she was in the desert. Did she really visit the desert that she had written about? But she firmly denied it.

If that were true, then where did these grains of sand come from? Were they from the place she had written about in her novel, from that world ravaged by yellow sand? It seemed like this was the only explanation I could accept.

(News Reporter: XX)

<Table of Contents><Introduction 2>


Translated by: Yvette
Edited by: merebear226


2 thoughts on “Introduction 1: What Else is in the Desert Except for Sand

  1. That’s very interesting. Wasn’t the original translation from her perspective? And Wu Xie had gone missing?


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