The Pool of Unease is set in Anjialou, in Beijing. It’s one of my favourite places because it is so unlike much of Beijing, so bursting with life and so entirely unpretty. A decade ago, it was still a village, located where the city turned into countryside. Now the city has advanced upon it and surrounded it, so that if you stand in Anjialou and look in any direction, there are high rise blocks on the horizon. Anjialou is still a chaotic maze of alleyways and tumbledown shacks, with people, their laundry and their kitchens, all spilling out onto pavements. There are few Beijing farmers here now. In many cases, the rooms have been rented out to the migrant workers who come from the poor countryside to do manual labour in the capital. The wages they earn here are low, but higher than they would earn at home on the land. The eastern end of the street is devoted almost entirely to taxi repair workshops. Elsewhere, there are noodle stalls and of course the beauty salons, many of which double as massage parlours. The village graveyard still exists, an area of woodland next to two fishponds. Along the south shore of the fishponds there is now a row of nightclubs and bars.
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Lucy Cavender, a photographer living in Beijing, took all these photographs of Anjialou. If you want to reproduce any of these images, please contact Lucy through this website for permission. To see some of her portraits of writers, go to: www.beijingbookworm.com/happenings