I think I was in fifth grade when I read a novel for school set during the Tiananmen Protests, and, eventually, the Tiananmen Massacre.

My mother, though almost never a dogmatic Communist, took issue with the novel, and the fact that I was being assigned to read it. A ten-year-old Chinese-Canadian has little grasp of the philosophical complexities of being Chinese in a western, democratic country — this conflict was my first hint that there was anything complicated about it at all.

I was told that the People’s Liberation Army had no choice but to disperse the protesters in the early days of June, 1989. The protests had gone on for weeks, defying negotiation and reasoning. The students didn’t even know what they wanted anymore, she claimed. Deng Xiaoping had heard and agreed to listen to them. Still they persisted, sullying and vandalizing the former home of emperors, making a laughingstock of China in front of the world. …

Here are some things I think about baseball in no particular order:

1. There is far too much baseball, and for that reason there is exactly the correct amount of baseball.

An MLB game clocks in in the neighbourhood of three hours, the longest individual game time of any of the four major North American professional sports organizations. On top of this, each MLB team plays 162 games in a season. There are probably people who watch every game played by their favourite team in its entirety, in the way that one would follow, say, football (American, that is; I’m not certain how one follows association football because I am not a Communist). Retirees might be able to do so; idle billionaires might be able to do so, but you and I are not able to do so.* …

“Can I help you find anything?”

You look up. “Just say ‘No,’” runs through your head. “She doesn’t need to know what you’re looking for. Nobody has to know.”

“Yeah, I’m looking for Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan.”

Her lips purse as the corners of her mouth roll up. “Yeah, that’s right,” You think. “I’m an ASIAN dude looking for that book that ASIAN people like about ASIAN people written by that ASIAN dude. Oriental.”

She shows you to the appropriate shelf. “So here’s that one,” she says, handing the tastefully peach-coloured volume to you, “and here are the sequels, which are also” pregnant pause “very popular.” She waves her hands toward China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems. Her speech sounds uncomfortably deliberate. Is she refraining from saying the titles because she’s worried about offending you? …


Theodore Yan

I like history and baseball