ALU Book Club: Interview with Xue Yiwei

August 16, 2017

We're in week three August Book Club and all things  Shenzheners (Linda Leith Publishing). While we don't like to play favourites, week three is our number one: we got to electronically sit down with author Xue Yiwei and ask him those burning questions we had around his fantastic collection of short stories. Check out our interview, below.

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We're in week three August Book Club and all things  Shenzheners (Linda Leith Publishing). While we don't like to play favourites, week three is our number one: we got to electronically sit down with author Xue Yiwei and ask him those burning questions we had around his fantastic collection of short stories. Check out our interview, below.

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shenzheners

All Lit Up: We really dug into one character's ruminations on translation in our staff discussion: what in your opinion heralds a good work in translation? What was the experience of having your work translated like? Were there any profound changes?

Xue Yiwei: A good work in translation should be a work that carries the feeling or the heart of the original as well as the ideas or the mind of it. To be honest, my experience of having my work translated is a process of love and hate. During the process, I sometimes regretted having understood the languages that my work was being translated into. Fortunately, the results are great so far. And I have learned a lot from my translators and editors.   

 

ALU: Which title character (e.g. the country girl, the father, the prodigy) do you identify with most? Who do you identify with least?

XY: The prodigy and the dramatist are the characters I identify with most. The peddler is whom I identify with least. In the story, the distance between the peddler and the narrator is significant. 

 

xueyiwei_Qinying

ALU: Your book shows a profound connection to the canonical Western literary tradition: how and at what age were these books introduced to you in China?

XY: In 1975, at the end of the Cultural Revolution, when I was about eleven years old, the translated versions of Western literary books begun to circulate in China through some underground channels. This was the time I first tasted Western classics. Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Romain Rolland, Alexandre Dumas (father and son), and Stendhal were names I first heard.  

 

ALU: This is your first book published in English, but you've authored sixteen books! Do you find literary culture in your city of Montreal different from that of Shenzhen, or indeed other parts of China?

XY: Yes, I do. First, literary culture in China is becoming more and more commercial. Second, the government’s control over literary culture has never been what Canadian writers would be able to imagine.  

 

ALU: How does the short story form compare with writing novels?

XY: For me, it is almost the same. I always write novels in the same way I write short stories. In some sense, you could treat Dr. Bethune’s Children as a collection of short stories and Shenzheners as a novel.

 

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Thanks so much to Xue Yiwei for answering our questions on  Shenzheners, and to Linda Leith for connecting us! Catch up on the introduction to our book club and staff discussion, and then take your inspired self to purchasing a copy for 15% off.


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