【Review】| Corners of the World& Souls in Society
Time: November 23, Friday, 19:00-20:30
Venue: Enclave Bookstore
Theme:Writing-A Spotlight on Society’s Soul
作家：Diana Evans（英国），Mineke Schipper（荷兰），徐东（中国），杜绿绿（中国）
Writers: Diana Evans (United Kingdom), Mineke Schipper (The Netherlands), Xu Dong (China), Du Lulu (China)
Moderator: Zhang Hong (China)
The second Shenzhen event of The 3rd EU-China International Literary Festival was held on December 23 in Enclave Bookstore, Shenzhen. In theme of “Writing: A Spotlight on Society’s Soul”, four writers from China, United Kingdom and the Netherlands were invited to discuss how to shine a spotlight on the dark corners in different societies all over the world，meanwhile combining together their own experience and personal feelings. Meanwhile, the guests discussed together about their favourite writers and those who influenced them the most.
他们分别是：获奖作家及文学杂志编辑徐东；英国作家Diana Evans；荷兰小说家Mineke Schipper 和现居广州的获奖诗人杜绿绿。
Joining the panel was award-winning author and literary journal editor Xu Dong; British author Diana Evans; Dutch writer of fiction and non-fiction, Mineke Schipper and the award-winning poet Du Lulu who now lives in Guangzhou.
With a cup of steaming tea in hand, under the soft light in Enclave Bookstore of Shenzhen, the moderator Zhang Hong, who is also a writer, editor and curator, brought the theme of today’s workshop–Writing: A Spotlight on Society’s Soul. Author Mineke Schipper, with a gentle smile on her face, said honestly : “ Every human being wants to be seen, wants to be respected.” She said that lots of her work was inspired by her discussion with the students. Mineke Schipper once lived in Congo, Africa for 6 years. After witnessing the civil war in Congo, she wrote a novel. It mainly talked about the reality and cruelty people witnessed during the Civil War and the book revealed the dark side in reality.
Her experience in Africa also led her to another one of her works “ Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from Around the World ”. The reason she started to write this book was from the first time she heard a saying in Africa which goes like: Eating with a woman is eating with a witch. This led Mineke to some deeper thinking. After that, she started collecting proverbs from all over the world hoping to know more about the relationship between men and women. Because the society is consisted of two kinds of souls: male and female. So the exploring of these proverbs is the exploring of those souls. She collected more than 50 thousand of proverbs from different regions of the world and finally finished her book “ Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from Around the World ”. For this book, she received the Eureka Award in 2005 for best non-fiction book. It was also translated into many different languages and has been sold in many regions around the world.
Writing from their own personal experiences as well, the British writer Diana Evans and Chinese writer Xu Dong shared their past and their works. The book “ Tibet World” by Xu Dong was from his staying in Tibet for 3 years. The book reflects not only the social reality, but also the real image of one’s soul. “ What we see is realistic but limited. What we feel is non-realistic, but relatively infinite”, Xu said when he was talking about his writing.
Talking about writing experience and exploring the society’s souls, writer Diana Evans said she started writing in her teens. Back then, she would keep her thoughts in her journals. Sometimes the unpleasant encounters and feelings were too much for her to bear. Whenever they were bigger than she could bear, she wrote it down. In another word, the journal was the record of life. And of course, the life she understood at that time and different sides of society including dark ones were also wrote down in her journal. Years later,she published her very first work “26a”. It was a story about the loss of a twin. Her second book, writing about a dancer’s change from a vivid soul to someone who couldn’t move anymore, was rooted from her experience as a dancer before. All those works were trying to reveal human souls from different perspective, thus lighting corners of the world.
说到描写真实社会，将聚光灯打在世界角落，照亮不同灵魂的写作方式，主持人不由得问起了Diana，有英国评论家奖其作品同Charles Dickens 媲美一事。对此，Diana Evans表示，她个人非常欣赏Charles Dickens, 并且很喜欢他的作品。因为写伦敦，写伦敦的真实面，写伦敦的贫穷，写伦敦的脏乱角落，是Charles Dickens作品中最令人欣赏的对社会不同灵魂的真实写照。
Mentioning the writing style of depicting the real society, shining spotlight into corners and on different souls, the moderator Zhang Hong couldn’t resist but asked Diana about being compared to Charles Dickens by the English critics. Diana Evans said she liked his work a lot, especially the way Charles Dickens authentically depicts various kinds of souls in the society. He wrote about London, about the truth of London, about the poverty in London and about the dusty corners in London。
The contemporary poet Du Lulu also mentioned a similar view: “ I pay more attention to the souls because they are enriching. Revealing the spiritual mind is to focus on the environment surrounding you.” The environment is the society we live in. She thinks a good literature is a reflection of the reality. And as a poet, she admires the writers who focus on the truth and the real, like Anton Pavlovich Chekhov from Russia and Lu Xun, the famous writer in China. Reading Lu Xun’s works in different phase of your life will lead you to new thoughts. Her favourite writer was Pushkin, who is also from Russia. She recommended his works to the audience because of his bight and candid writing style.
Between the invited writers, the moderator and the audience, their was also a small discussion about real life, experience and their soul. What is so enrich and infinite is just the soul of human beings. A good work should be able to explore humanity and reflect inner souls through their characters. The charm of writing is within its existence. It can be the light in corners. It can be the bright in souls.
“I wrote for my soul”, said Evans in the end when the audience asked about the writing purpose.
After the workshop, four writers took photos together with the others.