Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wang Gang

Wang Gang is a critically acclaimed novelist and screenwriter in China. His novel English, due out from Viking in April, is based on his experiences growing up in western China. He lives in Beijing.

From his interview with Andrea Wong at Shanghai City Weekend, in anticipation of the Shanghai International Literary Festival:

Do you have a daily writing routine? What do you do when you get writer's block?

I don’t write everyday. I write by paragraphs. When I get writer’s block, I usually listen to music and drink. Sometimes I get drunk.

What does it mean to be a writer?

I use words to express true emotions instead of academic knowledge like a scholar. Of course, the basic requirement for authors is to criticize themselves and to question their own sins before they criticize and question others’. This is the biggest difference between me and other Chinese writers.

What's your favorite English word?

Mercy and lots of other words: compassion, kind, soul, and most of all, love. They all intensely capture what my novel is about, and what’s important to me. During the Cultural Revolution, cruelty happened everyday. That’s why Love [the protagonist of English] always yearned and thought in desire. These words are opposite to reality. Their meanings give us a hint of what Chinese people and Chinese authors lack. We need what these words express. If humanity truly wants less bloodshed and less killings, then not only China, but any country in the world, should experience and understand more these words used in “English.” Including America.
Read the complete Q & A.

Also at Shanghai City Weekend: an interview with China historian and The China Beat blogger Jeffrey Wasserstrom.

--Marshal Zeringue