From May 17, 2019 the Delegation of the European Union to China, in association with the Citic publishing group, will launch the 4th EU-China International Literary Festival at a ceremony at the Delegation of the European Union to China in Beijing. The festival will run from May 17–June 5 and will host more than 90 events in Beijing bookshops, universities and European embassies where 28 award-winning authors from the EU and counterparts in China will hold insightful conversations regarding their lives as authors, their works, and how their cultures and traditions shape their experiences. Chinese audiences at the events will have a valuable opportunity to hear about the writing process from multiple winners of prestigious literary awards such as the European Union Prize for Literature and the Lu Xun Literature Prize. Conversations between acclaimed European and Chinese authors will shed light on how cultural differences inspire even more richness and complexity in the literary world.
Speaking ahead of the festival, Nicolas Chapuis, Ambassador of the European Union to China, said that, “Writing, publishing, translating and reading books are fundamental for sharing our values and our cultures, our stories and our history as Europeans. We are proud of our cultural diversity, and we want to make it widely available to new readers in China.”
He added that the success of previous editions of this festival has only encouraged the EU to scale up the event and invite this time 28 exceptional writers from every European Union member state.
“They represent different cultures, different literary traditions and styles. They write for children and for adults. Some have already been translated into Chinese. Our festival opens a space for dialogue. European authors will be able to engage with Chinese counterparts to promote exchanges between our cultures and look for fresh artistic inspiration. As such, literature can help us better understand the world around us.”
Looking ahead to her visit to China, renowned Dutch poet and children’s author Bibi Duman Tak said that, “I never thought that I ever would have been trailing behind my words to the other side of the world. And once landed there, I would even find readers. Imagine, my words ahead of me! The only thing I can do is cheer. And I have already begun here in Amsterdam.”
Chinese novelist and short story writer Zhu Wenying said that: “When the fire broke out in Notre Dame in Paris last month and one of the spires fell, countless people in China and around the world were extremely sad. This was not just for the sake of the loss of a beautiful building, but for the romance of the place, for our fascination with European literature and some of its protagonists that were written about in that church - Casimodo, Claude and Esmaralda in Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name. When we look forward to the gathering of writers from 28 countries in the European Union, it is not only that we are excited about this wonderful literary event, but also that it gives us an opportunity to review, to take a deep look at history and to consider the future of Chinese and European literature.”
Some prominent authors attending the festival include QUAN Zhou, from Spain, an artist, illustrator, graphic novelist, intercultural speaker, radio hostess and senior visual designer, she documents the experiences of Spain’s recently arrived 200,000 strong community of Chinese people. Her first graphic novel, Gazpacho Agridulce, was published in 2015 and tells the story of a Chinese family fresh off the boat 35 years ago in Spain; Sofronis Sofroniou, coming in from Cyprus, is a critically acclaimed novelist, winner of the National Award of Literature in Cyprus and the Best Newcomer Novelist Award from the Hellenic Authors’ Society for his debut novel, Crude Iron; Max Ducos, a French multi-award winning artist and author, whose picture books aim to balance painting and cinema. He is always particularly attentive to details when creating a children’s book, offering several levels of reading; ZHANG Lijia, the UK’s entrant, the author of the critically acclaimed memoir “Socialism Is Great!” about her decade-long experience of working at a rocket factory in Nanjing and her debut novel Lotus, on prostitution in contemporary China, was published by Macmillan and was featured by BBC radio’s World Book Club; Pierdomenico Baccalario, an Italian writer, during his more than 20-year publishing and media career, Pierdomenico has written and managed the international franchise of Geronimo Stilton, that have sold over 90 million copies worldwide, and worked on animated TV series that have aired in over 100 countries. As an author he sold around 10 million copies; Leonora Christina Skov, from Denmark, literary critic and author, she has won the Booksellers’ Prize, The Golden Laurel among other awards, an avid traveler and previous writer-in-residence for Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai; and many more from countries including China, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Romania, Sweden, and Ireland.
China is being represented with a glistening array of literary stars, including the following: Su Tong, a well-known contemporary writer whose masterpiece "The Yellow Finch" won the ninth Mao Dun Literature Award and his novella "Witch and Wife" was honoured among the Top 100 Chinese Novels of the 20th Century, and was adapted into Zhang Yimou’s most famous movie Raise the Red Lantern. Also in attendance is Xichuan, a well-known contemporary writer, whose writing and poetry have had a wide influence in contemporary Chinese poetry circles. Along with Haizi and Luo Yihe he is known as one of the three great contemporary poets of Peking University. He has won prestigious awards such as Lu Xun Literature Award, Zhuang Zhongwen Literature Award, and the UNESCO Azberg Prize. Xu Zechen, a well-known contemporary writer, is considered to be among the best of China's "post-70s writers," his most celebrated work "If the Snow Seals" won the 6th Lu Xun Literature Award Short Story Award; while another other "Jerusalem" won the Lao She Literature Award and was nominated the 9th Mao Dun Literature Award in 2015. The list of Chinese writers also includes Wen Zhen, famous for her "An Xiang Road", is the youngest ever Lao She Literature Prize winner and the first among the post-80s generation to win one of China's four major literary awards. Not only contemporary style writers are represented here, Zhu Wenying, is acclaimed for going back to China’s traditional roots and has been hailed as the revier of “the ancient and splendid and delicate cultural atmosphere of Jiangnan”, some of her works were collected by the National Library of France and have been included in the University of Hawaii’s pure literature journal (MANOA), which is considered to be "the most promising young writers album in the Pacific Rim," with masterpieces including "Little South of Lily's Aunt" and "Prosperity". Some of China’s most celebrated modern female writers are in the line-up too, including Xu Xiaobin, who is considered the representative of ‘Chinese women's literature.’ Known by the literary world for her works such as "The Enchantress", "The Witch", "The Elf Falling into the Mortal World," she won the first "Lu Xun Literature Award" in the country, the first "Female Literature Award" in the country, and the British PEN Literature Award. Xu’s masterpiece "Feather Snake" was bought and translated by the world famous publisher Simon & Schuster and published in English. It became the only Chinese work that year to be included in the international schedule of one of the West’s top publishing houses. The event also invited several other well-known Chinese contemporary writers, including: Li Jingze, Li Wei, Liang Hong, Yan Zhou, Di An, Hei Mi and others.
The 4th EU-China International Literary Festival is the finale in a series of events under the two-year-long #Experience Europe initiative, which aims to introduce the culture, institutions, and people of the EU to Chinese audiences. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd EU-China International Literary Festivals, held in November 2017, May 2018 and November 2018 respectively, featured more than 160 authors, who participated in scores of events in Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Suzhou, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. With this festival, the Delegation of the EU will have brought two famous writers from each of the EU’s 28 Member States to China, showing Chinese audiences the richness of contemporary European literature.
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About #Experience Europe
From May 2017-May 2019, the #Experience Europe campaign by the Delegation of the European Union to China entertained Chinese audiences and informed them about the history, policies, values, economy, culture and lifestyle of the EU, its 28 Member States and its 500 million citizens through a series of 24 monthly topics in the form of social media posts, online competitions, podcasts, infographics, and animated videos. The overall #Experience Europe campaign also featured cultural events, four large policy forums, and a series of public lectures on issues such as peace and prosperity, the environment, education, trade, and many other topics of interest.
About the Delegation of the European Union to China
The Delegation of the European Union to China was established in 1988 and is located in Beijing. It conducts official relations between the European Union and China and seeks to deepen EU-China cooperation and exchanges in all fields. To improve outreach to Chinese audiences, in May 2017, the EU Delegation launched a new public diplomacy campaign titled #Experience Europe.