On November 6, 2020, the 5th China-EU International Literary Festival, held by the EU delegation to China, was launched online. Affected by the epidemic, this is the first online literary festival.
The theme of this activity is “Recovery / Reflection”. During the 3-week period from November 12 to December 6, 2020, there will be 27 dialogues between 54 outstanding writers from China and the European Union.
Representatives of Chinese writers participating in the festival include Liu Zhenyun, Bi Feiyu, A Yi, Zhang Yueran, Cai Jun, Chen Qiufan, etc. Among the European writers, there are Irish writer Colm Tóibín, who has been shortlisted for Booker Prize for three times, German writer David Wagner, who has won the Best Foreign Novel of the Year Award of 2014, and Andrés Barba, a Spanish writer who wrote the República luminosa.
At the opening ceremony, Nicolas Chapuis, Ambassador of the European Union to China
stressed that the purpose of the China-EU International Literary Festival is not only to discover good books and outstanding writers, but also to show the cultural and social diversity of the countries in China and Europe. The festival will be presented in many languages, including French, Italian, Bulgarian and so on.
At the opening ceremony, four representatives of writers from China and Europe spoke.
The writer Bi Feiyu recalled his contact with Mr. Nicolas Chapuis. The differences between Chinese and French cultures made him reflect on the limitations of language. “What literature has to face is how to describe different lives in our own language. It may turn truth into lies, and more likely to turn lies into truth.” Curiosity and patience to different cultures are the only way for literature to seek truth and express truth.
Dorthe Nors from Denmark talked about several old family photos, her views on literature and how literature shapes herself. She thinks that literature, like photographs, is a form of recording life and a mirror of unspoken words and emotions.
Chinese writer Zhang Yueran says that she has always been a loyal reader of European literature and that she might not have been engaged in writing without reading these classics. At this time of the epidemic, she pointed out that the softness and sharpness of literature can help us face and recover from disasters.
David Wagner from Germany believes that writers have the responsibility to understand what is happening at the moment and describe it through their works. Therefore, “from the perspective of literature, this special period is not necessarily a bad thing.”.
In the question session, Mr. Nicolas Chapuis firstly answered the question of “what positive role can literature play in promoting international cultural exchanges”.
He pointed out that literature provides us with the first window to observe the world. Most Europeans understand China by reading classics such as the four great masterpieces, and the same goes for Chinese people to understand Europe. The original intention of China-EU International Literary Festival is to “open a door for contemporary writers”, so that the works of Chinese and European writers can be read by more and more people.
When he has been asked about “why Chinese contemporary literary works are so popular in France”, Bi Feiyu said that his works are indeed the most published in France. He felt that French readers and media are more enthusiastic about literature. “This may be the national culture and character of France, and they are more willing to look at different countries and cultures with a curious eye.”
When a reporter asked the writers about their reading and life during the epidemic, David Wagner joked that this year’s epidemic has made everyone’s life like “sitting at home”. In the form of an epidemic diary, he recorded what he saw and heard in Berlin, Germany. Some of his works will be published in China.