Giving his village a voice

Updated 2016-11-23 13:59:40 China Daily

There are thousands of writers in China, but very few are like Qin Taixiang.

The 56-year-old farmer, who had little formal education, concentrates on writing about Moudao. About 95 percent of the 3 million words he has written relate to the remote, once isolated town.

Born into a poverty-stricken family, Qin didn't attend school until he was 11. He had to get up at 5 am to ensure that he would have time to walk 20 kilometers along a mountain road and arrive at school on time at 9 am.

"We were never given lunch at school. The journey home took even longer than the one to school because I was too hungry to walk quickly, and I searched for wild fruit all the way home to fill my empty stomach," he recalled.

Even though he had no idea what literature was, Qin was enthusiastic about the written language and borrowed all the books he could find.

However, he failed the national college entrance exam twice and almost resigned himself to becoming a farmer. Hoping to change his destiny, he joined the army, only to find he was too old to qualify for training at a military academy.

Desperate, Qin finally followed in the footstep of thousands of his fellow villagers and became a migrant worker. He floated around Beijing and the provinces of Jiangsu and Guangdong for 18 years before returning to Moudao in 2009.

His enthusiasm for literature never waned, though. During his time away, he wrote a book of essays - The Azaleas of Sumadang - and published articles about Moudao's wild mushrooms in Wuxi Daily in 1996. A piece called Sumadang's Weed was printed in Zhanjiang Literature in 1998.

Qin said he wrote about his hometown because he found it better than any of the tourist attractions he visited during his time away, including two of China's five most-sacred mountains (Huashan and Taishan): "I maintain my enthusiasm for literature mainly because I want to promote my hometown."

In his novel The Sun Rises over Dongshan Mountain, Qin described an ideal future for his hometown - a summer resort that would attract tourists. Officials who read the book dismissed his ideas, with one telling him: "It would be too difficult to realize", but Qin was determined to see real change.

With high-rise buildings under construction and a swath of tourists prompting traffic jams in the small town, that change has already taken place. Despite the developments, Qin wants to continue writing about Moudao.

"I want to write reports about its development because there are still so many things to write about. For example, the developmental footprint of every developer and the deeds of every official involved in the town's development would be worth recording," he said.

"My hometown's development is just beginning, but it's still not how I dreamed it would be. Eventually, it will be a lot better and will become a world-famous tourist attraction."

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