On November 22, 2018, the third edition of the EU-China International Literary Festival was launched in Shenzhen at the Enclave bookstore. A total of 22 writers from the European Union and China took the stage to exchange their views on literature and looked forward to more understanding and dialogue between Chinese and European literature and writers. In the next three days, nine writers from different countries in the European Union will participate in eight different and wide-ranging events, focusing on how writing matches the current state of society, the influence of history and culture on writing, and the experiments on language and style of writing.
Writers from the European Union talked about their own writings from their personal experiences and cultures. Danish novelist and essayist Mathilde Walter Clark associated a writer with an astronaut, her dream profession as a child. She talked about writing as exploring in a distant alien place, except that you only need to sit in your own room to do so. Helena von Zweigberg, a Swedish writer of crime novels and broadcaster, quoted the Swedish proverb “You cannot give anything to a person who closes his hands” to express her opinion: “Writing and reading is to open your hands to accept and embrace others.” She also responded to Mathilde’s point of view, arguing that writers differ from astronauts in that astronauts explore outer space, and writers enter the inner space of humans. In such an era when people are not willing to know about each other, she appealed to everyone to “open their hands” to understand the views of others.
Many EU writers came to China for the first time, who expressed their expectations for this event and the future cultural exchange between China and Europe. The Cyprus writer Antonis Georgiou, who won the 2016 EU Literature Award, said: “I am very willing to read Chinese literature. I hope there will be more Chinese works in Europe in the future, and more European works in China.” Finnish writer and psychologist Jussi Valtonen hopes to have more exchanges with Chinese writers in the next three days, and took the opportunity to announce the good news that his latest work They Know Not What They Do, a book that was awarded the Finlandia Prize, the highest literary award of the country, will soon be published in China. There will also be a special event featuring the promotion of Mr Valtonen’s new book. The Maltese author Pierre Mejlak talked about how he got to know the Great Wall of China from an illustration in a book of his mum, and he thanked the organizers, volunteers and Chinese writers for their commitment to this activity, whose hospitality made him feel a lot of love.
Diana Evans, a British writer with Nigerian origin, jokingly said that this was her first visit to China, but hopefully she was not the last writer to participate in the China-Europe Literature Festival as a British representative. She defines her works as “realist novels with a supernatural dimension” These novels are set in London and feature themes like family, relationship and mental illness. The Black community in the UK has been a focus of her work due to their lack of visibility in the society.
Differently, Dutch scholar and writer Minke Schipper has a special relationship with China, especially Shenzhen. The doctoral student she once taught is now the dean of the School of Foreign Languages at Shenzhen University, and she has four works translated into Chinese. She said that the title of the non-fiction novel Never Marry a Woman with a Big Feet is actually taken from African slang, but it also aroused the audience’s resonance when promoted in China. The similarity of this culture in different parts of the world is beyond her expectation.
Chinese writers introduced the history and culture of Shenzhen to their European counterparts as hosts. Mongolian writer Deng Yiguang quoted Lu You’s poem “Winter” to welcome European writers and organizers who came to Shenzhen at this time. He introduced Shenzhen as an immigrant city and mentioned that there are many professional writers in the “villages within the city”, including many foreign writers, such as Obama’s brother Mark. He suggested that writers from Europe should not miss the unique landscape “villages within the city” if they want to experience Shenzhen culture. Wu Jun talked about Shenzhen as a special city in China, attracting many young people, and she is one of them.
Some writers shared their thoughts on literary and cultural exchanges. The writer and screenwriter Pangbei hopes that in this exchange between writers in China and Europe, there can be another angle, namely the world standard, to shed light on some good works that have not been brought to people’s notice. Sichuan essayist and critic Tang Xiaolin believes that the marginalization of literature is a false proposition. He thinks that history will only eliminate mediocre novels, and excellent works will become classics. Zhu Wenying, one of the organizers of the EU-China Literary Festival, emphasizes that authors should not go against their nature in order to comply with the society, and the most important thing is to “be yourself.” At the end of the opening ceremony, Zhang Er, poet and the founder of the Enclave bookstore, quoted a line written by the Enclave Poetry Prize winner Zangdi – “language is like the wings” to propose that “poetry should allow the language to move endlessly in a free style.” He hopes that all writers can write in such a free state.
来自欧盟的作家们从自身经历和本国文化出发谈及自己的写作滥觞。丹麦小说家和散文家Mathilde Walter Clark将写作和她小时候梦想的职业宇航员联系起来，谈到写作就像是在遥远的异域进行探索，不同的是你只需要坐在自己的房间里就可以畅游外太空。而瑞典犯罪小说作家、电台主持Helena von Zweigberg引用了瑞典谚语 “如果一个人紧握双手，你是没有办法给他任何东西的”来抒发自己的看法：“写作和阅读就是张开你的双手去接纳和拥抱他人。”同时她也对Mathilde的观点做了回应，认为作家与宇航员的不同之处在于，宇航员是对外太空进行探索，作家更多的是去到内部的心灵的空间。而在这样一个大家不愿意去相互了解的时代，她呼吁大家“张开双手”去理解他人的看法。
很多欧盟作家都是第一次来到中国，他们也在发言中表达了自己对于这次活动和未来中欧文化交流的期待。荣获2016年欧盟文学奖的塞浦路斯作家Antonis Georgiou表示：“自己很愿意阅读中国文学，希望未来能在欧洲看见更多中国的作品，也能在中国看见更多欧洲的作品。”芬兰作家、心理学家Jussi Valtonen则希望与中国的作家在接下来的三天能有更多交流，并借此机会宣布了他的最新作品、荣获芬兰最高文学成就Finlandia奖的小说《他们不知己行》 即将翻译成中文出版的好消息，而此次深圳场的活动中也有他的新书专场推介会。马其他作家Pierre Mejlak谈到了小时候从插图上认识中国长城的趣事，并感激这次活动的主办方、志愿者和中国作家，他们的热情款待让他感受到了许许多多的爱。带有尼日利亚血统的英国作家Diana Evans开玩笑地表示，这是自己第一次来到中国，但是希望不是最后一个以英国代表身份来参加中欧文学节的作家。她将自己的作品定义为“带有超现实角度的现实主义小说”。这些小说以伦敦为背景，主题为多元文化下的家庭、人际关系和精神疾病问题，并将更多的注意力放在英国的黑人群体身上。
中国作家们则以东道主的身份，向欧洲的同行介绍了深圳的历史文化。蒙古族作家邓一光引用了陆游的《冬日》一诗，欢迎在小雪节气来到深圳的欧洲作家和主办方。他介绍深圳是一个移民城市，并提到这里的城中村居住着许多职业作家，也包括许多外国的作家，比如奥巴马的弟弟马克。他建议来自欧洲的作家从 “城中村” 这一深圳的人文景观的地标性区域开始了解深圳文化。吴君谈到深圳是一个特殊的存在，吸引了许多热血青年，而她自己便是其中一个。