The story is "The Fish of Lijiang"
by Chen Quifan, and translated by Ken Liu
in Clarkesworld Magazine
"The Fish of Lijiang" is a beautiful little story. I just loved it. It has lots of SF trimmings, but it also has heart, and it's clear that the author has something to say. What he has to say has roughly to do with people being forced to lead lives of quiet desperation. How much do we choose to do, and how much is programmed into us? What's real in the world?
I hadn't heard of Ken Liu before, but a quick look at his blog shows him to be a busy writer, producing his own fiction as well as translations.
It was difficult to find out much about Chen Quifan beyond this story and what Clarkesworld Magazine says about him, which is very little apart from the fact that he is Chinese and writes in Chinese. I hope we see more writing from him of the calibre of Ken Liu's translation. You have to really appreciate good translations.
"The Fish of Lijiang"
Read it here at Clarkesworld Magazine
Or get the audio here, read by Kate Baker at Clarkesworld Magazine.