New documentary to introduce hometowns of famous Chinese writers

By Global Times - The Paper Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/31 18:43:39

A visitor enters the previous residence of Mo Yan in East China's Shandong Province, which has been converted into a museum. Photo: IC

A new documentary that explores the hometowns of celebrated Chinese writers is set to air on Central China Television on June 8.

Titled Hometown of Literature, the TV series focuses on six well-known figures in Chinese literary circles - Mo Yan, Jia Pingwa, Liu Zhenyun, A Lai, Chi Zijian and Bi Feiyu - and explores the relationship between these writers' works and the places they grew up.

"Chinese literature springs forth from one's home. All of these writers come from rural areas and each has their own piece of land they call home. They are like unique plants that have grown into a forest of aesthetic beauty and literature," the show's chief director Zhang Tongdao told The Paper in an interview.

Apart from filming in China, the team also traveled to Japan, the US and Europe to interview more than 30 Sinologists, translators, publishers, literature experts and Nobel literature prize judges.  

Mo Yan, a Nobel laureate known for his hallucinatory realist style whose representative works include Frog (2009) and Red Sorghum (1986), told The Paper that the documentary was worth filming as a writer's hometown shapes their literary style. He noted that filming the program gave him the opportunity to revisit his hometown, Gaomi, Shandong Province, as well as recall memories of his early years and redefine himself.

"I envy A Lai for the splendid snow mountains and broad vision that his hometown gave him; I envy Liu Zhenyun for the vast yellow wheat fields that his hometown offers him; I envy Chi Zijian for her hometown's ice and snow, and Bi Feiyu for his hometown's massive cauliflower plants. Our hometowns are so different and diverse and to some extent, they shape our literary styles," noted Mo, whose works have long been described as reflecting local cultural characteristics and having a "strong rural flavor."

A Lai, a Tibetan writer and youngest winner of China's Mao Dun Literature Prize, echoed Mo's opinion by stressing the connection between one's hometown and writing experience. He said whenever he would go for a walk on the Tibetan Plateau, he would barely see any people. Instead flowers, grasslands and trees were what made up the main part of the view. 

"This made me feel a close connection between our lives and nature. Whenever I return to that environment, that connection gets stronger," A Lai told The Paper.

Mao Dun Literature Prize winner Liu Zhenyun, the renowned novelist and screenwriter best known for his novel Someone to Talk to and I Am Not Madame Bovary, told The Paper that filming the documentary was a good opportunity to re-examine his work.

"When I looked back at my previous work, I found that some of them were childish but also very sincere and honest. I found that my writing was unadorned and not shrewd," said Liu, stressing that being true and faithful to himself is the essential drive behind his writings. 

Newspaper headline: Literary connections


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