Xi Xi 西西 has been awarded the 2019 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, and on March 7, at the University of Oklahoma, Tammy Ho, who nominated her, read a speech about her work.
Both Xi Xi’s prose and fiction have inspired my own writing over the years. When I was an undergraduate student at the University of Hong Kong, I wrote a short story modelled on Xi Xi’s A Girl Like Me … Xi Xi does not always write from the perspective of women, of course—her range is too great for that and her concerns and interests too broad—but her writings that do explore the daily lives of women and their interior thoughts and feelings have, no doubt, given voice to many women and emboldened them to start writing themselves. And Xi Xi’s poetry about the small, often ephemeral, things that make life more delightful and contemplative, the people she meets, the places she frequents, the tales of seemingly insignificant individuals—what we call 小城故事 (small city stories)—have touch that is simultaneously light and profound. Xi Xi’s approach to poetry has also informed my own verse: to take inspiration from what can be seen, concretely felt, happily or patiently experienced—to take inspiration from life and living itself.
Click here for the speech in full.