By Chu T’ien-wen
Translated by Ping Zhu
Upon being awarded the 2015 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, Chu T’ien-wen gave the following acceptance speech at the award ceremony on March 6, 2015, at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. In her speech, Chu uses the mythological narrative to tackle the perennial question between reality and literature. Quoting Calvino, Chu tells the audience that reality is like Medusa’s head, but different writers treat this monstrous head differently—some use it as a weapon and some change it into beautiful corals.
First, like all other laureates, I thank the host of the Newman Prize, the Institute for US-China Issues at the University of Oklahoma, and the Newman jurists.
I am truly grateful to the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, because until now, I had never imagined that I would fly from a distant subtropical island to this continent to join this banquet with all of you. The Chinese word yuanfen 緣分 describes the convergence of various causes and conditions. At this time, in this space, not sooner, not later, it happens precisely here and now. Our meeting is one such amazing convergence, and I am thankful for it.
By Charles A. Laughlin with Liu Hongtao
The three novella excerpts that follow are from the forthcoming collection By the River: Seven Novellas from Twenty-first Century China, curated by coeditor Liu Hongtao 刘洪涛, volume 6 in the Chinese Literature Today book series at the University of Oklahoma Press.
The novella, or zhongpian xiaoshuo 中篇小说, is not the most conspicuous form of Chinese fiction. Ranging from twenty thousand to forty-five thousand Chinese characters in print form, works of this length will only fit into large literary journals in which full-length novels are also serialized, and thus usually reach only a limited readership. The most prestigious literary awards tend to focus on full-length novels, while short stories can enjoy broader circulation in newspapers and general-interest magazines because of their shorter length.