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This novella is concerned with a group of young men associated with the International Red Star Broadcasting Station—Cui Zi’en’s parody of the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda machine—who make it their mission to create a society called “Public Toilet Utopia.” They report on stories about public toilets throughout the city, from mechanical malfunctions to emergency weddings. They invite anthropologists, literary critics, and student leaders to debate on the relative merits of private versus public bathrooms. While some advocate for the complete abolition of private and public bathrooms alike so that human beings can release their bodily fluids without physical barriers, others argue for the socialization and expansion of public bathrooms so that other species can enjoy their benefits. In making the question of public bathrooms central for socialism and collective mobilization, the story’s main characters also arrive at a renewed understanding of the social construction of gender.

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