The 9th edition of the Hyderabad Literary Fest, that is hosting China as the guest nation in 2019, organised a session with the China Writers Association on January 25.
The session consisted of a panel on Chinese Literature, that was specially invited by China and A. Lai, president of the Sichuan provincial writers association while the session was compered by Samuel Christy.
The panel included: A well-known novelist playwright and the Vice-President of Shanxi Provincial Writers Association- Ge Shuiping, a member of the National Committee of China Writers Association – Guan Renshan, the chief editor of the magazine ‘Literary Port’- Rong Rong and Bei Ta, a professional poet, translator and General Secretary of the Chinese Shakespeare Society.
Zheng Lei, their interpreter and a member of the International China Association, told the audience that for some panelists, it was their first time in Hyderabad, especially India. He wished that India-China has more healthy literature personality exchange.
Each of panelist was introduced by highlighting their respective achievements and then their backgrounds were discussed. Owing to their diverse backgrounds, Lei said: “ Diversity makes literature charming.”
Mr. A Lai said that he was curious to find out more about China’s ‘Himalayan neighbour’ – India. He said that though China and India may have had geo-political disagreements, he felt that knowing more about India and the other neighbouring countries is more important than in European or Western cultures.
Then Guan Renshan spoke about, ‘Lighting up China’s rural areas with literature.” He talked extensively about life in rural areas in China, of which he has a first-hand experience. He also expressed his wish for more Chinese writers writing about the human condition and the destiny of peasants, their life and experiences to help light up the people living in these areas.
Ge Shuiping, who writes on women and their issues, reflected on her past. She said that while growing up she had observed how difficult it was for women to do anything. She then pioneered the introduction of the topic of feminism and female literature in China, wherein women writers wrote about the destiny of women in lower classes and rural areas.
Chinese writers have been writing prominently from the year 1950’s to 1980’s. Most female writers wrote about love and sex in the 1980s. This kind of literature was largely frowned upon and was debated debated in China.
She then stressed on the fact that women deserve respect and should be free from injustice and male chauvinism. She continued and added that India and China are similar in many ways including social development and that both the countries could gain inspiration from each other.
Next, Rong Rong shared about how she spoke to various female poets just to know: ‘Why they write poetry?’
She said the answers, though varied, had one thing in common that – they all felt that poetry was their way of expression. She highlighted her findings in 3 points: Present – female contemporary poets are now writing about the modern era. Abundance – these poets were infusing their personal experiences hailing from different provinces in China. Lastly, the third point was – Explore. These poets are exploring the possibilities of writing on how they feel: be it happy or sad.
The last speaker, Bei Ta, briefly discussed ‘the development of contemporary Chinese poetry over the past 40 years’ and emphasised on four points i.e. Chinese poets understand foreign literature and culture better than those in any other countries. For foreign poets, the work of Chinese poetry is unimaginable and difficult to understand and by using traditional Chinese culture, the poets go through unparalleled emotions, thoughts and direct experiences due to the dramatic social transformation.
He explained the treatment meted out to poets in China by drawing analogies with the weather. He stated that at present, the atmosphere is warm but in 1980s it was best described as ‘hot’ as the work of poets was given immense importance and in the decade of 2000s, poets were neglected, hence the period was termed ‘cold’.
Author: Aishwarya Johnson
Edited by: Beneath The Ink (http://beneatheink.com/2019/01/27/hlf-2019-contemporary-trends-in-chinese-literature/)