November 17th, 2010 by Bonnie McDougall
The Boat to Redemption, by
Su Tong, published by Doubleday
What is the status of contemporary Chinese literature within world literature as a whole? Should contemporary writers look towards the world or to local traditions for inspiration? And how to account for the apparent mismatch between China’s economic power in the 21st century and its cultural influence in the world? Around 50 speakers and another 250 listeners addressed these and other questions at the International Conference on the Global Significance of Contemporary Chinese Writing, held 29-30 October 2010 in Beijing.
Bonnie S. McDougall, eminent scholar and translator, attended the conference and has provided a report for Artspace China. This piece gives a broad overview of the themes and debates currently defining China’s literary scene, and of the authors engaged in these discussions. Many of these names and arguments will be picked up on in future posts, but you can start here for a lay of the land.
Apologies that I can’t provide links for more of these authors and scholars – the English language websites often just don’t exist. It’s a sign of how small a percentage of this literature and intellectual discussion is available in the English language, i.e. to a global audience.
Bonnie S. McDougall is Visiting Professor in the Department of Chinese Studies at the University of Sydney. A former student and lecturer at Sydney, she also taught at Harvard, the College of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, and Oslo University before being appointed founding Professor of Chinese at the University of Edinburgh. After retiring from Edinburgh in 2005, she was also Visiting Professor at the Chinese University and City University in Hong Kong. Many thanks to Professor McDougall for her account.