Area: China and Inner Asia
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Howard Choy, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong (organizer, chair, presenter)
Shelley W. Chan, Wittenberg University, United States (presenter)
Carole Hang-fung Hoyan, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (presenter)
Kevin Ting Kit Yau, Academia Sinica, Taiwan (presenter)
Carlos Rojas, Duke University, United States (discussant)
After Gao Xingjian and Mo Yan became the Nobel laureates in 2000 and 2012, respectively, Yan Lianke has been considered by literary scholars to be the next award candidate. While banned at home in mainland China in recent years, Yan’s publications and recognitions have been found in the peripheral and foreign lands, from Hong Kong and Taiwan to America and Europe. The panel studies the global receptions of this controversial Chinese writer and their significance at the time of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.
We begin with Shelley Wing Chan’s examination of the reception dynamics of Yan’s fiction in China and abroad through an analysis of (self-)censorship and other factors causing the nonequivalent receptions that form a dialogue inside and outside China. Then Carole Hang-fung Hoyan investigates the reception of Yan in Hong Kong from a cross-regional perspective by resituating Yan in the context of world literature and probing into the dynamics of how his writings travel from the mainland to Hong Kong and beyond. Kevin Ting Kit Yau continues with his collection of book reviews, journal papers and dissertations, aiming at the reception of Yan in Taiwan, a key geographical position to publish Yan’s novels, and its meaning to the Chinese publishing industry under China’s censorship. Finally, Howard Yuen Fung Choy traces the journey of Yan’s idea of shenshi zhuyi, translated as “mythorealism,” to the West and examines how he is put on a par with American, British, Kazakhstan, Polish, Russian authors and artists and received by Italian scholars.
The Reception of Yan Lianke in the West
After Yan Lianke conceptualized his literary style in the coined expression _shenshi zhuyi_ (2011) and his American translator Carlos Rojas rendered it into the English term “mythorealism,” the Chinese writer has been listed as one of the “Mythorealistic Writers, Artists, Thinkers” on the website http://www.mythorealism.com. As a result, Yan as the only Asian is put on a par with American, British, Kazakhstan, Polish, Russian authors and artists. Moreover, Yan’s Mythorealism has since then attracted the attentions of Italian scholars like Melinda Pirazzoli and Selusi Ambrogio. While Pirazzoli compares it with Lani K. Thompson’s Mythorealism and Franz Kafka’s representation of the human quandary from post-humanist and post-Foucauldian perspectives, Ambrogio understands it “as search of undetectable truths” from the viewpoint of comparative philosophy.This paper traces the journey of Yan’s “mythorealism” to the West and examines how the _shen_ ‘spiritual’ in _shenshi zhuyi_ travels from the Chinese tradition of the supernatural to join the Western realm of myth alongside with the worldwide dissemination of his anti-Utopian fiction. Yan’s definition of _shenshi zhuyi_ as “myths, legends, dreams, imaginations, and magics” is therefore redefined in the global context. It serves not only to shed light on the interpretation of his own literary work but also to engage with ideas alike, such as magical realism and hallucinatory realism.
The Reception of Yan Lianke from Home to Abroad
Yan Lianke is arguably the most controversial writer in mainland China today. Whereas his works have been translated into many languages and the writer himself has won numerous important awards at home and abroad, including the Franz Kafka Prize from the Czech Republic and the Dream of the Red Chamber Award from Hong Kong, his books have either been banned or unable to publish in China. For instance, his _Dream of Ding Village_ survived for three days only before it was banned. _The Four Books_, one of his most important novels, was rejected by two dozen domestic publishers; consequently, the author had to print copies for friends at his own expense, and eventually the novel was published in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Interestingly, while no publishers dared to publish _The Four Books_, a conference on this novel was hosted by a state-owned university in Beijing, and the conference papers were published by one of the most important scholarly journals in China.This paper examines the reception dynamics of Yan Lianke’s fiction in China and abroad. What is in Yan Lianke that makes him popular internationally but controversial in his home country? How have the nonequivalent receptions formed a dialogue inside and outside the wall? Is his being banned in China merely due to the influence of censorship implemented by the state hegemony? How is the “velvet prison” in post-Mao China comparing to that in the revolutionary era? What role does the possible practice of self-censorship play in the velvet prison?
The Reception of Yan Lianke in Hong Kong
Yan Lianke is a prolific and yet controversial mainland Chinese author who attracts global attention. Three of his novels and short-story collections banned in the mainland were published in Hong Kong, including _Serve the People!_ (2005), _The Years, Months, Days_ (2009) and _The Four Books_ (2010). Yan was awarded the sixth Dream of the Red Chamber Award given by Hong Kong Baptist University for his novel _The Day the Sun Died_ in 2017. He served as Visiting Professor of Chinese Culture at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and was conferred Doctor of Letters honoris causa. His two lecture collections review the dissemination and impacts of nineteenth-and-twentieth-century world literature on China.What is the significance of Yan’s encounter with Hong Kong? How do Hong Kong scholars view Yan’s mythorealist portrayal of the economic development of China in the age of globalization? This paper investigates the reception of Yan in Hong Kong from a cross-regional perspective, focusing on his works published in Hong Kong, especially his award-winning novel _The Day the Sun Died_. Drawing on the reviews of Yan and his lectures on world literature, this paper resituates the author in the context of world literature and probes into the dynamics of how Yan and his writings travel to Hong Kong and beyond.
The Reception of Yan Lianke in Taiwan
Yan Lianke’s works have become a special phenomenon to the Chinese publishing industry in the past fifteen years. Some of his works went into exile from mainland China because of censorship. Under this circumstance, Taiwan is in a key position to publish his original Chinese novels. Since 2006, seventh works of Yan have been published in Taiwan, including his famous novels _Serve the People_ (2005), _Dream of Ding Village_ (2006), _The Four Books_ (2011) and _The Day the Sun Die_ (2015).The aim of this paper is to investigate the reception of Yan in Taiwan. How do the Taiwanese locate Yan’s novels? Compared with other mainland renowned writers, such as Mo Yan and Yu Hua, does Yan catch the same attention in the local Taiwanese market? What topics or issues are the Taiwanese academia concerned in Yan’s works, and how are they different from the mainland Chinese or overseas academia? In what ways do Yan’s works connect and create meanings to their literary and life experience? By collecting book reviews, journal papers and dissertations in Taiwan, the presenter tries to give a preliminary answer to the above questions
This panel is on Thursday - Session 02 - Room 6
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