Suffering Does Not Destroy the Possibility of Suffering

Ma Yan
Translated from the Chinese by Stephen Nashef

Suffering does not destroy the possibility of suffering, andliving does not do away with the art of self-hallucination. Inthe space of a life, the shellfish that pass through the cracksin the coral are a hidden, infinitesimal music which a hugeband is now playing, and the people march from the crackstowards a magnificent future. Yes, it is true, light will scatterfrom the lowliest of places, and all the ugliest of smellsare omens for war, but I sit on the rubbish pile singing,singing a song about the marriage of plastic and fire, a songwhich will sing the recluse underground up to the surface.When he comes to the surface the flowerless fruit will bloom,the shells will offer a crooked way out, and everythingonce again will descend, repeating until infinity. Just like this,he says, suffering does not destroy the possibility of suffering.

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Stephen Nashef lives in Beijing where he works as a translator and coder. He has translated the work of Ma Yan, Zhu Yu, and Yiwei Xue.

Summer 2019

Ann Arbor, Michigan

University of Michigan

Khaled Mattawa

Poetry Editor
Katie Willingham

Managing Editor
H.R. Webster

Michigan Quarterly Review is an eclectic interdisciplinary journal of arts and culture that seeks to combine the best of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction with outstanding critical essays on literary, cultural, social, and political matters. The flagship journal of the University of Michigan, MQR draws on lively minds here and elsewhere, seeking to present accessible work of all varieties for sophisticated readers from within and without the academy.

In addition to choice creative work, we publish special issues dedicated to timely themes, such as Vietnam: Beyond the Frame and Bookishness: The New Fate of Reading in the Digital Age, and special clusters of essays on individual topics, like Motown, Politics and Detroit, or the Age of Obama. MQR has published work by Margaret Atwood, Juan Cole, Robert Coles, Carol Gilligan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Alan Liu, Barry Lopez, Czeslaw Milosz, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Rorty, Eric J. Sundquist, John Updike, William Julius Wilson, and other authorities in their fields.

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