A story I wrote, How Prejudiced, appeared in January’s issue of Litro. It moves through two typical experiences traveling alone, one in a bar, the other in a hostel. I wrote the story on a train from Chengdu to Wuhan. The traveler inside is begged to roll the dice, drink the overpriced American booze, and make colorful excuses for not bothering with the region’s language or taking its people seriously. Rather he appreciates spaces, the culture, the history, but refuses to let himself become one of those prejudiced foreigners. The effect is that the traveler watches the misogyny like television, thinking “silly man!” or “unreal!”
I was not surprised that the British journal Litro picked this piece up. Most Westerners I meet traveling in Asia are British or Anglophone, and I’ve had enlightening conversations with some British travelers who never seemed to pretend as if a trip overseas wasn’t already somehow embedded in colonial history. The story, in some ways, isn’t about them. The traveler here is American through and through.