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Book Review: With The Explosion Chronicles, Yan Lianke shows us why fiction matters

By James Kidd

The Explosion Chronicles
by Yan Lianke

Chatto & Windus

Remind me again – why do we read fiction? Putting aside the probability that television is telling stories better than anyone else, that cinema at least provides an audience, that video games turn readers into players, books themselves can feel a little last millennium.

Moreover, as 2016 proved, life itself is giving litera­ture a run for its money when it comes to telling tales. If Donald Trump didn’t actually exist, then a Don DeLillo, a Martin Amis (or a Nigel Farage) would surely have to invent him.

Nowhere are the lines separating reality from fiction more blurred than in China, whose recent past, as Yan Lianke acknowledges in a pointed afterword to The Explosion Chronicles, very nearly beggars belief: “As the entire world stares incredulously at contemporary China’s miraculous transformation, the nation’s authors feel they have reached a point where literature can no longer directly reflect reality.” Nor, Yan continues, are these limitations confined to Chinese writers. “Even the ideologies and techniques associated with world literature would emit a collective sigh of despair if confronted with China’s extraordinary events.” Read more

Source: South China Morning Post


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2017 set to be landmark year for Chinese poetry

By Wen Zongduo/Li Wenfang

Many Chinese poets say that this year will be special for them, a view echoed by Wang Guoqin, a poet and critic who said “poetry is the light ahead in the dark tunnel of my life”, after receiving the Creation Award of the Year at the Third Spring Festival Poetry Gala for his book Talking About Poetry From Zhishi Studio.

The gala in Beijing organized over Jan 13-14 by the Qu Yuan Society of China brought together poetry enthusiasts from Beijing, Xi’an, Nanjing, Kaifeng and Shenyang.

Coincidentally, just over 100 years ago, Chinese poetry underwent a drastic change with poetry collections being published in new styles, free in rhythm and lines, com-pared with traditional verses often preset with tones, rhymes and the numbers of characters.

But questions still abound a century later.

At an event in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, on Jan 8 in the presence of guests from the province, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, Qiu Shuhong, whose latest honor is the World Chinese Poetry Award’s gold prize, proposed that 2017 be made the Year of Chinese Poetry to celebrate the birth of “new poems”. Read more

Source: China Daily

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Zhou Youguang, Who Made Writing Chinese as Simple as ABC, Dies at 111

By Margalit Fox

zhou-youguangZhou Youguang, known as the father of Pinyin for creating the system of Romanized Chinese writing that has become the international standard since its introduction some 60 years ago, died on Saturday in Beijing, Chinese state media reported. He was 111.

In recent decades, with the comparative invincibility that he felt great age bestowed on him, Mr. Zhou was also an outspoken critic of the Chinese government.

“What are they going to do,” he asked bluntly in an interview with the BBC in 2012. “Come and take me away?”

In fact, they had already done that once before, long ago. Read more

Source: The New York Times

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China: 2016 works worth reading

By Mei Jia

The Paper Republic website, which promotes contemporary Chinese writing to the English-language world, has just put out its latest list. Now in its fifth year, the list offers readers a wide range of choices. “This year’s list is longer than ever, and several books have won international prizes,” says Nicky Harman, a UK-based prize-winning literary translator, who prepared the list. At a glance, there are names of writers of fiction, sci-fi writers, online works, poetry and children’s literature, all translated and published in English in 2016. Read more

Source: China Daily

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Chinese novels make waves globally

By Xing Yi & Mei Jia

With many international awards, literary works from the mainland made a mark on the international stage last year. Xing Yi and Mei Jia report.

Chinese novels came of age in 2016 bagging many international awards, as in the case of children’s literature writer Cao Wenxuan winning the Hans Christian Andersen Award, Hao Jingfang taking the Hugo Award after Liu Cixin, the first Chinese winner of the award in 2015, and Wang Anyi grabbing the 2017 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature from The University of Oklahoma in September.

Veteran literary critic Meng Fanhua says 2016 was a big year for novels and he says that the power of Chinese stories come from the rural areas, “where we have the strongest literary traditions”.

Another veteran critic Bai Ye, who is with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says that while traditional and established novel writers continue to produce works, younger writers who were born in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s are also gaining ground. Read more

Source: China Daily

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China: Turning a new page: Writers of online fiction taste fame and fortune

By Song Jingyi

It has been eight years since Tang Xintian, a post-80s woman in Beijing, started working as a freelance writer.

Tang majored in economics and began working as analyst in Shanghai after graduation. However, it was her passion for writing that made her quit her job and started to write novels online.

In 2009, Tang started by posting her stories on Hongxiu Tianxiang website, China’s largest community of fiction lovers online. Luckily, her first novel was weel accepted and ranked in the top three on the website. Later, it even got published.

Tang was greatly inspired by this success, and has been working as an online writer since then. In 2011, she became more popular across the country when the TV series Naked Wedding, based on her novel, became a hit.

Despite her popularity, Tang continues to post her works online, because she has found internet “a very good place to let people know your work, especially publishers and readers.” Read more

Source: China Daily

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China Cultural Center turns new page with digital library

A digital library of China Cultural Center was launched Thursday in Beijing to provide better information service to readers abroad and to better promote Chinese culture.

The online library, a joint initiative of the Bureau for External Cultural Relations of the Ministry of Culture and the National Library, will be a crucial addition to libraries at Chinese culture centers in different countries of the world. The first batch of digital resources total more than 2,200, covering areas of Chinese literature, history, culture and society, including 200 ancient books, over 1,200 contemporary books, 20 latest journals, 10 online exhibitions, as well as 1,000 audio, video and Internet resources. Read more

Source: China Daily

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US writer’s book on Beijing out in Chinese seven decades later

By Wu Yue

Marian Cannon Schlesinger, 104, can still recall what Beijing was like in the 1930s, when she visited China to see her sister, Wilma Cannon Fairbank, and brother-in-law, John King Fairbank.

“I fear that old Peking and all its wonderful atmosphere, the hutong (alleys), mud houses, sounds and daily life, as I knew them, have long disappeared,” Schlesinger writes in her introduction to San Bao and His Adventures in Peking.

The book’s Chinese translation, published by Beijing-based Zhonghua Book Company, was released in October, 77 years after the original in English was first published in the United States.

“I think what I caught in my little book is almost a historical record,” she adds.

Schlesinger arrived in Shanghai in 1934 after a 17-day ship journey from the US having completed her college education. Read more

Source: China Daily 

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Chinese online literature goes to world

Despite huge cultural gaps, Chinese online literature, especially fantasy novels featuring martial arts and magical powers, have created a reading frenzy among foreign readers, Xinhua News Agency reports.

Fascinated by the cultural elements contained in Chinese web novels and their imaginative plots, many foreigners have spontaneously begun to translate these works, exchange translating experiences and discussing plots. Some even started learning Chinese or writing their own fantastic works inspired by popular genres of Chinese web novels.

Wuxiaworld.com is the largest Chinese web novel translation forum in the world. Founded in December 2014, the forum has completed translation of seven Chinese web novels. The translations of 22 other novels are ongoing.

As of last month, the forum had been ranked 1,536th in the world website ranking list with daily page views of 3.62 million. Almost one third of its readers are from the United States, and others are mainly from Philippines, Indonesia, Canada and Germany.

Lai Jingping, founder of Wuxiaworld, said compared to western works, Chinese fantasy novels are based on rich Chinese culture, history and myths. The unique Chinese concepts in these novels are very fresh and attractive to western readers, said Lai. Read more

Source: CRIENGLISH.com

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And they read happily ever after

By Sravasti Datta

Children do bury their noses in books, in fact much more than adults. The author speaks with writers who affirm this.

Enter a swanky book store and try looking for children’s books, and you will probably find a handful in a forgotten corner. But, there is a wealth of children’s writing by Indian authors waiting to be discovered. Authors, editors, and illustrators invested in children’s books are doing all they can to reach out to the young minds and get them interested in reading. But the refrain, ‘Children don’t read’, gives the impression that children’s books don’t sell.

Ask Shreya Rao, a class 10 student at A.P.S., Bengaluru, who also writes a blog and she is quick to point out: “People who say children don’t read, don’t even read themselves.” She says that her love for reading began when she was in class four. “My mother gave me a book to read and said she would buy as many toys as I wanted if I finished reading it. I loved the book so much that I wanted to read more.” Read more

Source: The Hindu