“I’m writing a novel in English that’s inspired by wǔxiá fiction.”
As I finished speaking in Mandarin, forty middle school students stared back at me with stunned eyes. It was as if I had suddenly transformed into a xiákè, a wandering warrior, who had stepped out of the pages of a wǔxiá novel and into their classroom in Chóngqìng, China. In reality, I was only a visiting writer and translator, with no martial arts skills or supernatural powers, recently returned to visit the land of my birth.
Gasps and questions continued, becoming louder and louder.
Mrs. Hé shushed her students and turned to me with awe. “Wǔxiá fiction is so rooted in traditional Chinese literature and culture. How can you write wǔxiá in English?”