Last night at Prada's New York Epicenter store on Broadway, the luxe Italian fashion brand continued with its arty mission of fostering new talent, this time through a high-brow literary reading. In the flagship store in SoHo, a well-dressed crowd of writers, actors, and fashion folk gathered to hear writers like Jonathan Ames, Jay McInerney, and Gary Shteyngart read excerpts of stories by the five winners of the first Prada Journal literary contest — Mattia Conti, Leisl Egan, Angel Mario Fernández, Sarah Harris Wallman, and Peng Yang. The global search for creative writers inspired by glasses first began on April 18 with the prompt: What are the realities that our eyes give back to us? And how are these realities filtered through lenses? The writers won 5,000 euros each and the short stories will be published in a digital book available on Prada's site before the end of the year. For a sneak peek, read an excerpt from Yang's "Gray Story" below, or click through the slideshow to see the party.
Arrival in Qizhuang by Peng Yang
One year, in the middle of summer, two strange events took place in Qizhuang: a strange rain fell and a strange person arrived.
As the inhabitants of Qizhuang remember it, the strange rain appeared suddenly, in a violent burst, like a complaint made by the sky, and then it fell steadily for four days and three nights in a row.
At first, it was a fine, light rain. From the blazing sun and the celestial vault fell countless needles that beat down on the graphite shingles of the roofs of Qizhuang. Given the unbearable summer heat, it was a real blessing for the people of the town.
After a few hours, however, the rain intensified exorbitantly, like the implacable cry of a newborn. Rumbling and thundering, the storm tore down five or six of the flags that had been firmly planted in front of the door to every house; it swelled the level of the River Ling that gurgled in the center of Qizhuang; and it flooded the little houses and light-brown boats along the embankments, shattering them.
The inhabitants of Qizhuang were generally very proud of their embroidered flags, which could be of cotton, linen, silk or satin, and in any color: reds, yellows, greens or blacks. They were symbols of the celebrated local craftsmanship, but when they were swept away by the flood’s fury they looked like a school of frantic carp.
It occurred to no one to hole up safe at home, even if that ferocious, convulsing hurricane was something never seen before. Instead, the townspeople hurried to the River Ling to rescue the children who had fallen into the water and to salvage their belongings floating there.
In the relay of responders, those holding down the front line were the Bais, a husband and his wife, on their shadow-theater barge.
Even though they were over fifty, they were a fearless couple. The husband rowed from the bow while his wife did the rescuing. In her flowered dress, the woman with eagle eyes and the agility of a panther, held on to the edge of the boat with one hand and used the other as a giant ladle for fishing out anything of value: children, suitcases, bank notes ... thanks to her, they were all hauled to safety. By the middle of the night, strung with lanterns reflected by the water, the shadow-theater barge had become an actual lifeboat.
When the rain god retreated, the Bais docked to return the children, suitcases, and bank notes to their rightful owners, after which, together with the men and women of the town, they dug a trench to drain the floodwaters and helped those who had been inundated rebuild their houses.
It was at this point that the strange person made his arrival in Qizhuang.
Madam Bai was picking up debris on the bank of the River Ling when suddenly she saw a black dot, neither large nor small, floating in the waves.
Only when the black dot was in front of her did she see that it was a round bamboo basket containing a baby still in diapers. The newborn was dressed in a coverall, with white and blue decorations typical of ceramics, and was lying on a thick bed of rags. From a series of clues, Madam Bai deduced that it was a child abandoned by someone not from that area.
In spite of the situation, Madam Bai struggled to suppress her joy.
With the basket on her head, she raced to Mister Bai and breathlessly told him what had happened, at the end exclaiming, through her tears: “We are childless, Bai. Let us adopt this little boy who has escaped so much danger!”.
His eyes brimming with tenderness, Mister Bai looked at the rosy, chubby bundle and said: “We don’t need to adopt him. The heavens and the god of the River Ling sent him to us”.
He gave the cherub’s chubby cheeks an affectionate pinch − the child was extraordinarily calm − and added, his eyes reduced to two lines by his smile: “And you, so nice and round like a pebble? From now on we’ll call you Roly-Poly”.
The news soon traveled around Qizhuang.
The townspeople thought it had to be a reward, given to the Bais by the god of the earth for the rescue work they had done.
The townspeople also noted, however, that Roly-Poly, who had survived treacherous waves in his basket, and now in the arms of Madam Bai was being showered with affection and the wondering gaze of the curious people who had come to Qizhuang attracted by the news, was very tranquil in his scrutiny of the world, with clear eyes and not a cry or a sound.
“Madam Bai! He is very strange, this baby! Usually babies babble, but he does not react to danger, nor does he get nervous from all the confusion. It is really strange.”
These were the comments of the elderly townspeople, and, hearing them, the Bais lit up, their hearts full of joy.
Until the child turned one, as ever splendidly silent, when they realized that he was mute.
Published with permission from Prada
Most Viewed Stories
Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna Reportedly Broke Up
Donald Trump Spent the Morning After the Debate Fat-Shaming Miss Universe, Again
It’s Finally Possible to Understand What Happened to Amanda Knox
Hillary Clinton’s Sickest Debate Burns
Ask a Boss: My Co-worker Wants Everyone to Call Her Boyfriend Her ‘Master’!
2009 Called — It Wants Its Vogue-Versus-Bloggers Fight Back.
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Former Miss Universe Becomes U.S. Citizen So She Can Vote Against Trump
Area Woman Interrupted by Man 25 Times in 26 Minutes
Our Scowling Hero Breaks a Smile
From Our Partners
The Fashion Spot
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.