The following is from Yan Ge's Elsewhere: Stories . Ge was born in Sichuan, China. She is a fiction writer in both Chinese and English, and is the author of thirteen books in Chinese, including five novels. The first of her Chinese-language novels to be translated and released in the US, Strange Beasts of China, was one of The New York Times Notable Books of the Year. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia where she was the recipient of the UEA International Award for 2018-2019. By the time Alex Whelan became part of my life he had already died. However, it was not until much later that I became aware of this fact. I met Alex at a meeting of the Foreign Movies No Subtitles (FMNS) group. The date was March 2. The movie was An Autumn Afternoon . The meet-up place was Eoin's (the organizer's) studio off Meath Street. And the fee was five euros per person (with a glass of red/white wine). When I arrived the movie had already started. I stooped and sneaked in, taking a seat at the back. Alex was sitting right beside me but we didn't talk for the duration of the movie. Only when it was over did he turn to me and ask for the time. I checked my phone and told him it was 9:15. “I like the song they sang at the end,” he then said. “What do you think this movie is about?” “It seemed the old man was about to die so he arranged a marriage for his daughter,” I said. “I don't think so,” he disagreed. “I think he liked that hostess woman and the daughter decided to get married so her dad could find his own happiness.” “Wouldn't that be too much of a twist?” I frowned. “It wasn't straightforward anyway,” he admitted. “But isn't that what Japanese culture is about? The forbearance and the elusive love.” “I don't know much about Japanese culture.” I gave him a smile. “I'm Alex.” He grinned. “Hello, Alex.” “What's your name?” […]
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