The Chinese version of Nora Webster and The Testament of Mary by Irish writer Colm Toibin has been recently published in China. On the last stop of his visit to China in mid-December, Toibin had a conversation with Chinese writer Yan Lianke about many subjects, including "grief in literature", at Renmin University in Beijing. The influence of death on writing: Toibin: I lost my father at 12. In the following several years, my family stopped talking about it. They did everything else, and continued life without talking about it anymore. I wrote the novelNora Webster based on my memory at 12. I tried to imagine what my mother thought, howshe felt and what she said. Yan: I think the fine sentiments in Toibin's novel might be due to the young age when he losthis father. I lost my father at 25. What a 25-year-old man feels about death is very differentfrom a 12-year-old boy. My father's life vanished suddenly when I held him in my arms. Onecannot walk out of such a shadow. Now, in my dreams, I often dream of my father lying in myarms, asking me: "Lianke, am I really hopeless?" These words accompany me and mywriting. That's why there is so much about death in my novels. Read More
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