Two starkly different strands of Chinese literature will feature at this year’s Chinese Writers Festival, which promises to spark thought-provoking discussions on the reading of contemporary China.
Lei Tao from the north-western province of Shaanxi and Xu Xi from cosmopolitan Hong Kong will feature as keynote speakers at this month’s event.
Having worked for several decades with prominent movie makers and actors from rural China, Lei Tao will offer his insights into the Western Film Factory and writing from the region.
“Western China is the origin of Chinese civilisation. Its historical bedrock, ethnic cultures and vast geographical environment provide the prerequisite for literary creativity,” Lei Tao says. “Western Chinese literature is characterised by its intensity, sense of depth and unadorned presentation. The themes are mainly about village lives, complemented by historical connections.”
Lei Tao’s work is predominantly published in Chinese and includes ‘Walking into the Kingdom’ and ‘Actresses who came out from Xi’an Film Factory.’
Xu Xi is a prolific writer who publishes in English and lecturer in Creative Writing based in the modern cities of Hong Kong and New York.
Xu Xi’s keynote will approach the topic of being a global urban Chinese by discussing her essay ‘Why I Stopped Being Chinese’ in conjunction with her fiction writing, including her newly released novel, ‘That Man In Our Lives’.
“My being a global urban Chinese is entirely tied up with why I do or don’t want to be ‘Chinese’,” Xu Xi says, “Being ‘Chinese’ is very much a part of my new novel since the protagonist is a dilettante Sinologist, and is at times, more Chinese than the Chinese.”
The bilingual festival will also feature a number of familiar local writers, including Alice Pung (‘Growing up Asian in Australia’), Ouyang Yu (‘The English Class’), Belinda Jiang (‘Blossom in Australia’) and Wang Ruobing (‘Our Family’s Women’).
The Chinese Writers Festival is presented in partnership with Aust-China Writers Association, Chinese Poets & Authors Society of Victoria, Melbourne Chinese Writers Friendship Association, Yarra Libraries, Writers Victoria, Melbourne Writers Festival and WrICE. The festival is made possible by the support of Creative Victoria and the Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Office.
Tickets for the full-day festival range from $25-$50 (including lunch). You can book now on this website.