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'THE ORPHAN OF ZHAO'Chen Shi-Zheng, whose innovative staging of The Peony Pavilionraised worldwide plaudits, as well as censorial hackles in Beijing, has moved on to another Chinese opera classic. This time, however, he's transforming it into an American work, with the aid of Obie-winning playwright-performer David Greenspan and acclaimed young songwriter Stephen Merritt of the Magnetic Fields. For those who worry that 18th-century author Ji Juan-Xiang might not recognize his classic work, the Lincoln Center Festival also offers an alternative staging in Mandarin with subtitles. In English: OPENS FRIDAY, THROUGH JULY 27, LaGuardia Drama Theater, Lincoln Center. In Mandarin: OPENS JULY 23, THROUGH JULY 27, Clark Studio Theater, Lincoln Center, 212-721-6500. (Feingold)

WORDS

ANDREW LEWIS CONNThose who think the lessons of Ulysses have been lost on the current crop of fictioneers should peruse Conn's debut novel, P, which is Joycean in name (epigraph: "Books you were going to write with letters for titles"), in its first and last lines, in its one-day vivisection of a city. In the Bloom role is a pornographer named Benji; the equivalent of the "Ithaca" Q&A starts with street directions describing Brooklyn rather than Dublin. TUESDAY AT 7, Barnes & Noble, 1972 Broadway, 212-595-6859. (De Krap)

DOUGLAS COUPLAND"To acknowledge God is to fully accept the sorrow of the human condition," writes Cheryl, victim of a Columbine-like school shooting, from somewhere in the afterlife. Coupland's new novel, Hey Nostradamus!, is a remarkable examination of violence and spirituality, spanning 15 years and told in the voices of four characters: Cheryl, the pregnant Evangelical; Jason, her secret husband; Jason's girlfriend 10 years later; and his pious father, whose religious devotion has left him unloved and alone. Heartbreaking and horrifyingly real, Nostradamus! shows what happens after we identify our demons and saints. THURSDAY AT 7, Barnes & Noble, 675 Sixth Avenue, 212-727-1227. (Russell)

NICK MAMATASIn the short story "Time of Day," Voice contributor Mamatas coolly limns a future out of joint, full of homunculi, "acumen," ego agents, and instantly jacked-in knowledge. Also, his heroine hasn't dreamed in eight years. Mamatas reads from his new collection, 3000 mph in Every Direction at Once, with Joi Brozek. FRIDAY AT 8, Lucky Cat, 245 Grand Street, Brooklyn, 718-782-0437. (De Krap)

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