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10 International Stories in the First Person: True, fictional, graphic, and poetic

Posted on September 09, 2016

“The series of events unfolding in that year still remain vivid in my memory,” writes Wang Dan, former student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprisings, in his book, Prison Memoirs. The same sentiment shines through in other stories told in the first person, whether or not they describe an equally infamous event.

Here is a collection of 10 first-person stories from WWB Campus; you can find nonfictional personal narratives, like Wang Dan’s Prison Memoirs; fictional, or partly-fictional short stories; and stories illustrated with graphics and poetry:

Personal narratives:

  • Prison Memoirs, by Wang Dan: an excerpt from his memoir of his time in prison after being one of the student leaders in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in China. 
  • Memories of Chernobyl, by Egyptian doctor Mohamed Makhzangi: an excerpt from what he calls an “anti-memoir” about living in Kiev at the time of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown.
  • Walking the Keihin Factory Belt with Stuart Dybek, by Motoyuki Shibata, Japan: an essay that follows Shibata walking through his childhood neighborhood along with Stuart Dybek and his remembered younger self.

Fictional narratives:

  • The Last Picture Show, by Ryu Murakami, Japan: the part-autobiographical story of Yazaki, who moves to Tokyo with his blues band and becomes friends with a member of the yakuza.
  • Appointment in K City, by Li Xiao, China: a fictional narrative that follows the narrator’s investigation of a mysterious death and his developing understanding of poetry and love. 
  • It’s A Chick, Not a Dog, by Jar al-Nabi al-Hilw, Egypt: a short story from the perspective of a child who learns about “the way life works” through a friendship with a dog, and her mother’s friendship with a chick.

Graphic Literature:

  • A Drifting Life, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Japan: an excerpt from Tatsumi’s mostly autobiographical graphic novel about his development as a manga artist and person. 
  • Sharing, by Duncan Jepson and Xie Peng, China: a short graphic story about a character who moves to a new city and struggles with loneliness and a need for belonging.


These links are, of course, only some of the many first-person stories on WWB Campus—visit the Find page for more!