Eric Abrahamsen on Chinese Writers Remembering Yan’an

Over at the NYTimes blog Eric Abrahamsen of Paper Republic has, with characteristic sarcasm, written about the recent edition of One Hundred Writers’ and Artists’ Hand-Copied Commemorative Edition of the “Yan’an Talks.” So what were the “Yan’an Talks” 在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话? Eric describes:

The Yan’an Talks on Literature and Art, delivered in 1942 by Mao Zedong, laid out his plan for the role of art in Chinese society. Seven years before the establishment of the People’s Republic, Mao was essentially telling artists that in a future Communist paradise they could expect to work solely in the service of the political aims of the party.

Well! And?

This year is the 70th anniversary of the talks, and there’s nothing unusual about state-owned publishers bringing out commemorative editions of political texts. This one would include facsimiles of several historical publications of the talks, as well as a new version pieced together from hand-copied passages by one hundred contemporary Chinese writers. And it was likely to go nowhere but warehouse shelves, next to thousands of commemorative books like it.

But the hand-copied feature caught the notice of online commentators. Among the hundred calligraphers were most of China’s best-known and respected authors, including Mo Yan, Su Tong, Jia Pingwa and Han Shaogong.

Interestingly, some of the writers who wanted to have nothing to do with this project–I’m thinking of Yan Lianke 阎连科–are the writers I consider most interested in “serving the people” 为人民服务, though perhaps not in the way everyone wants the people to be served. No word on whether Xi Chuan took part in this commemoration.

Read the whole piece here.

Path Light: New Chinese Writing

Issue #1 of Path Light: New Chinese Writing, edited by Li Jingze 李敬泽, Alice Xin Liu, and Canaan Morse, is already out at the Beijing Bookworm and other venues (once it’s got an online presence / ordering page I’ll put up the link). Read this for the Xinhua English writeup, or take a look at Bruce Humes‘s list of some of the contents over at Ethnic ChinaLit:

Editorial Director Qiu Huadong (邱华栋) revealed some of the first issue’s contents:

  • Excerpts from the novels that won the 2011 Maodun Literary Prize, plus interviews with their authors.  He did not specify which novels would be excerpted, but the five winners were: On the Plateau, Zhang Wei (你在高原 , 张炜著) ;  Skywalker, Liu Xinglong (天行者, 刘醒龙著); Massage, Bi Feiyu (推拿, 毕飞宇著); Frogs, Mo Yan (, 莫言著) ; and One Sentence Worth Thousands, Liu Zhenyun ( 一句顶一万句, 刘震云著) See Rewarding Writer-Officials? for insight into the controversy surrounding this year’s Maodun Prize.
  • Short stories by authors born in the 1970s and 1980s, including Jiang Yitan (蒋一谈), Qi Ge (七格) and Di’an (笛安).
  • Poems by Xi Chuan (西川), Lei Pingyang (雷平阳) and others
  • Short stories by other writers including Li Er (李洱)
  • Introductions to new books such as Ge Fei’s Spring in Jiangnan (春尽江南, 格非著), Wang Anyi’s Tiānxiāng (天香, 王安忆著), Jia Pingwa’s Old Kiln (古炉, 贾平凹著), and Fang Fang’s Wuchang City (武昌城, 方方著)

The Xi Chuan pieces they’ve published are “Looking at the Mural in the Ruicheng Temple of Eternal Joy” 观芮城永乐宫壁画, “Ill Fortune H 00325″ 厄运 H 00325, “Dragon” 龙, and “The Body and History” 体相与历史.