Common People by A Yi

Imagine—if you will—that you are a large bird, hovering over the town of Jujiu on 20 April 1998. You would have seen the county’s deputy mayor, Li Yaojun, getting unexpectedly promoted to legal-political commissar; Chen Mingyi, a secondary school teacher, smashing his head on the ground outside a department store; Li Xilan’s husband heading off (and not for the first time) to Beijing to get his impotence treated; a team of migrant workers digging a pit in the road outside the park; and Feng Botao—accountant at the Linye Hostel—suggesting a game of chess to Ho Lao’er, a security guard in the local building society. And if you had been asked to arrange these disparate pieces of information in order of importance, you would probably have placed the final fact at the bottom of the pile.