New voices from China turn new literary page

Updated 2016-10-26 11:17:01 China Daily
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Liu Cixin, who attended an event in Beijing last month, shows up at the Frankfurt Book Fair with a German version of Three-Body Problem that will be released soon.

Liu Cixin, who attended an event in Beijing last month, shows up at the Frankfurt Book Fair with a German version of Three-Body Problem that will be released soon.

Western readers have great expectations of Chinese authors, according to veteran Sinologist Michael Kahn-Ackermann.

"They're supposed to represent their society, culture, history and the whole country," he said at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair, which concluded on Sunday. The fair opened on Oct 18.

A section of the fair dedicated to "new voices from China" saw many Chinese writers participate in a wide range of discussions.

Yu Yishuang, a Beijing-based author, is among those who spoke. So far, the 32-year-old writer has published two books of short stories set in Beijing.

And while she was introduced to an international audience in Frankfurt, Yu said she mostly cares about one thing when writing: "If the stories are well written or not."

Her candid writing about her experiences in Chinese cities and failed relationships seem to have got her invited to the fair.

Another invitee to the fair was Shanghai-based Lu Nei, 43. He is among Chinese authors who write about small towns.

Lu, whose first novel Young Babylon was published in English in 2015, said he writes about "the memories of my generation-of loneliness and life's absurdities".

At the fair, he told his audience a story about his father's obsession with Tango, and how he hid his fondness for the South American dance during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) and volunteered to teach others on the streets of Suzhou, a city in eastern China, for six years before the first dance venue appeared there in 1986.

Jing Barts, a publishing and cultural consultant, said Chinese authors received a lot of attention in Frankfurt from publishers and the media in Britain and Latin America.

Hosting Chinese authors was among some 4,000 events that the fair held this year.

As one of the world's biggest annual literary gatherings, the fair attracted 7,100 exhibitors from more than 100 countries, and 277,000 commercial and private visitors, a press statement from the fair's organizers said.

In 2009, China was selected the guest country and took the largest delegation to the fair, comprising more than 1,000 publishing professionals and 100 writers. Since then, foreign publishers and readers seem to have shown greater interest in Chinese books. This year, the Chinese delegation had 150 members.

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Chinese books such as Keywords to Understand China by New World Press were also launched at the fair.

Besides Yu and Lu, the Confucius Institute got writers such as Liu Cixin, Yan Lianke, poet Wang Xiaoni and illustrator Xiong Liang to go to Frankfurt.

Liu Cixin's Three-Body Problem that sold 160,000 copies in English since being printed will be released in German soon. It is the first book of his famous trilogy to be published in the language.

Liu told his audience at the fair that he was seeking connections between the infinite universe and people. In true form, he went: "If we invite all human beings to a concert, the Pudong area in Shanghai would be enough to contain them; and if we turned all humans into a meat ball, the diameter of the ball would be no longer than nine kilometers.

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