Beijing book fair embraces Canada writers

Updated: 2015-03-19 03:46

By Wang Ru(China Daily Canada)

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Beijing book fair embraces Canada writers

From left: Canadian writer Madeleine Thien, Canadian Ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques, Canadian writer Kim Thúy and Canadian writer Rawi Hage are invited to join the Bookworm International Literary Festival. Canadian Ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques met three Canadian writers at the Canadian Embassy at Beijing on Tuesday.[Photo by Wang Ru / China Daily]

Six award-winning Canadian writers were invited to join the Bookworm International Literary Festival from March 13 to 29 in Beijing.

The Bookworm International Literary Festival, a privately-funded annual event that was created in 2006 by the Bookworm bookstore, has become ‘a celebration of literature and ideas that brings together diverse voices from China and beyond’.

The festival includes 300-plus events across eight cities in China, connecting more than 110 Chinese and international writers and thinkers.

The literary communication between Canada and China can be traced to over three decades ago when China started its openings and reforms.

In 1981, Alice Munro, the 2013 Nobel Prize laureate for literature and six other Canadian writers were invited by the China Writers Association to visit China. After they returned to Canada, they wrote a travelogue titled Chinada: Memoirs of the Gang of Seven,1982.

In 2013, following Mo Yan’s groundbreaking win of the 2012 Nobel Prize for literature, Munro’s success gained her wide attention from Chinese readers.

Famous Canadian literatures translated into Chinese include Yann Martel’s Man Booker price-winning Life of Pi and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.

On March 22 Douglas Gibson, former president and publisher of Canadian publishing company McClelland and Stewart, will introduce how he has cultivated an extensive network with some of Canada’s most prominent writers and his memoir, Stories About Storytellers, includes an introduction by Nobel laureate Alice Munro.

"The Canadian literature was little-known in China before," said Zhang Tao, general director of International Liaison Department of China Writers Association.

"But Canadian writers’ brilliant short stories and travelogues has a promising market in China," Zhang said.

"Literature translation from Chinese to English or French, is a key issue to make more Chinese novels known in Canada," Zhang said.

The writers were also invited to meet Chinese publishers and media at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, a cultural supporter of the Bookworm festival.

The Canadian Ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques met the Canadian writers as well as Chinese publishers on the welcoming luncheon last week and praised it is a good opportunity to introduce Canada’s diverse multi-culture to China and enhance the understanding between the two countries.

Canada and China designated 2015-2016 as a year of people-to-people and cultural exchanges, with the two sides agreeing to make their best endeavors to successfully conclude the film co-production treaty by the end of 2015.

During the festival, the Canadian writers hosted their events at the Bookworm store in Beijing to introduce their works and share their life experiences on topics that included family identity of immigrants in Canada and Canadian modern literature.

Last week three Canadian writers, Rawi Hage, Madeleine Thien and Kim Thúy, all from immigrant families, joined an event titled Identity and Place, and discussed how their understanding of identity shapes them, their worldview, and their works.

Hage, who was born during the civil war in Lebanon, was a cab driver in Montreal before publishing his award-winning debut novel De Niro’s Game, which was set in his war-torn hometown of Beirut, and was translated into Chinese. His novel Cockroach, which focuses on the complicated life of a Middle Eastern immigrant in a Montreal suburb, was also translated into Chinese and published in China.

Born in 1968 into war-torn Vietnam, Thúy was one of the boat people who fled the country when she was 10 years old. A former seamstress, restaurant owner, interpreter, and lawyer, she now resides in Montreal as a full-time writer.

Madeleine Thien, born in Vancouver, a daughter of a Chinese-Malaysian father and a mother originally from Hong Kong, wrote the award-wining Certainty and The Chinese Violin, a Children’s book based on a story about a girl who emigrated with her father from China to Canada.

On March 19 novelist and travel writer Dennis Bock, who was hailed by The Globe and Mail as "Canada’s next great novelist", had a conversation and reading with readers.

Bock’s Going Home Again won many awards including China’s 21st Century Best Foreign Novel of the Year in 2014.

Vincent Lam, a writer and doctor in Toronto, who was born in Canada to Vietnamese-Chinese parents, on March 21 introduced his first novel Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, and talked about juggling writing with medicine.