Author provocateur

Updated: 2014-10-15 08:18

By Chitralekha Basu/Sun Li(China Daily)

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Author provocateur

Chen Xiwo feels one of the reasons why his writing makes readers uncomfortable is because people tend to be moralistic when it comes to sex.[Photo/China Daily]

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Chen Xiwo, whose works often tend to be interpreted as erotic and violent, might actually be a closet romantic, as Chitralekha Basu and Sun Li discover.

Even as he looks to get feedback on The Book of Sins, a collection of seven novellas (translated into English by Nicky Harman and recently published by Forty-six Books in the United Kingdom and in Hong Kong), Chen Xiwo is equally keen to talk about being a writer in present-day China.

Chen, 52, is the first Chinese writer to become a part of Leeds University's Writing Chinese project that attempts to showcase distinguished Chinese literary voices in the UK.

He sees his visit as an opportunity to "bridge the cultural barrier, have foreigners take note of my work and expose them to Chinese society at the same time".

Back home he is probably better known for his purple prose than as a chronicler of contemporary Chinese society. In the popular imagination, Chen's works are often associated with graphic sexual descriptions-both violent and deviant.

He once got into a tangle with customs officials in his home province of Fujian, where he was barred from taking the delivery of a cache of his own books published abroad due to their apparent "pornographic" content.

Chen's tales abound with people who are as violent as they are loathsome.

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