Seeking distraction from the western media obsession with neoliberal narcissists like Trump (the candidate, the brand, the hair…) I was pleased to spy a tale from the other side of the world.
Alas, today’s Washington Post carries an item about the Chinese State adding April Fool’s Day (as Western cultural nonsense) to its, ever lengthening, list of banned behaviours or undesirable activities.
I have not had time to fact check this latest twist of China’s crackdown on corruption, dissent, fun, yet hoax or not the item is quite apt – especially the final paragraph that is apparently quoted from a Chinese social media account…
Today is April Fools’ Day in the West when you can publicly lie and not be punished. Why don’t we do the opposite and make this day ‘truth telling day’?” the user wrote. “Hopefully today we can speak the truth, express our true feelings, show our true colors, spread the truth without being restricted or punished, without getting blacklisted as inciting crime.
I’ve long been interested in a plurality of authentic voices – competing narratives – especially when discovering voices that struggle to be heard; or voices that are all too easily misquoted, misconstrued, and misrepresented by the mainstream media (including the Wash’ Post); or, perhaps worse case scenario, voices that are silenced by over zealous States wishing absolute control over the narrative (rather than having to compete, fairly, for public attention, opinion, mandate).
When considering China gaping pitfalls await. How can you find authentic voices and competing narratives when so much is subject to control by the State, or misrepresented by the west? One way is to think, ever so slightly, out of the box and look at (read and listen to) contemporary fiction coming out of China…
Avid readers of this blog may recall my signposting to Comma’s great collection of Chinese writers – part of my literary highlights of 2015 (and nods for 2016).
Ditto, here are links to short stories by four Chinese writers of contemporary fiction, signposted by their western translators (notably there’s a discussion to listen to – if you have more time and greater interest. Quite an achievement, apparently on goodwill alone, by the Free Word Centre, London).
Et voila, a Frenchman’s blog based on his substantial interest in Chinese writers and their writings.
My personal recommendation is to begin with Han Dong (pictured).
Bottom line? Sourcing authentic Chinese voices and views is perhaps akin to mining for diamonds or, in today’s money, data: once you have dug deep enough the rewards can be great and lasting.