This week we read Sun Yisheng (孫一聖) in my Detective Fiction class using the Nicky Harman’s awesome (if incomplete) translation of “The Shades who Periscope Through Flowers to the Sky.” The title is a reference to the Dylan Thomas poem “When once the twilight locks no longer” and succeeds in imitating the surreal power of that work to forge a double murder crime story of urban China. Harman has written about the difficulties of translating the work elsewhere on WP, but what I found interesting about Sun’s story is the way it turns tiny details into microcosms, as he does, for example, when the protagonist uses a shard of glass from his prison cell to reflect light on a girl who is taking her clothes off in a nearby building: just as he is becoming aroused everything turns dark because a solar eclipse is taking place. Students liked it, I think, but it doesn’t fit so well into the genre of detective story. In a way it’s good that I can’t easily find good examples of this genre from China as it allows me to throw in experimental works like this one. Last time I taught the course it was a Yu Hua story, as I recall(?), but originally I just taught one of Van Gulik’s “Judge Dee” stories, which of course is cheating even though these are based on original Chinese Judge Dee (狄公案) stories. Still, would greatly appreciate recommendations if any of my readers (totally fictional) have any.