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A letter-writing campaign by a group of bumptious, socially concerned intellectuals to the local government triggers an unforeseen chain of events, when a new bye-law decrees that everyone on the streets after dusk can only move around in a squatting position. A grad student’s girlfriend develops a fascination with her advisor's personal history, but as the narrator’s obsession with her obsession deepens, all is not as it seems, and the ladder of the story is kicked away by the author. A man begins to fixate on the idea that his new-born infant was actually fathered by his younger brother; as the idea takes hold, the world forms itself into a surreal and hostile place, where everyone is in on the conspiracy (including the baby). Diao Dou’s short stories inhabit the distances that exist between his characters’ interior landscapes and public façades. Sharp, witty, often bitingly satirical (critiquing regional and national politics and local cultural values), Diao Dou’s fiction is rich with literary allusion and inter-textuality.