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Archive for January, 2017

Quilling Cards Valentine’s Day Workshop

Come along to a special Valentine’s Day workshop and learn the art of quilling and create beautiful Valentine’s Day cards!

Quilling is the art of rolled, shaped, and glued paper that results in creating a unified, decorative design. The art of quilling has been around for centuries, with a remarkably varied historical background spanning across continents. This art form has persevered through time, most notably making its mark throughout the eastern world. Today, quilling is resurfacing again as a more accessible, affordable hobby for people of every age and background.
Date: 5th February
Time: 11am
Age group: Children 7+
Price:  80RMB
Limited spaces so book your place by emailing: order@beijingbookworm.com

Meet the Author: Lijia Zhang

zhang-lijia1Beijing-based author, Lijia Zhang has a forthcoming book, Lotus, which if you, like us, have read her autobiography Socialism Is Great! should be aniticipating with great excitement. Her first book tells the story of her tumultuous journey from disillusioned factory worker to organizer in support of the Tiananmen Square demonstrators, to eventually becoming a writer and a journalist. Her second book, a fictional story set in the very real and alive world of prostitution in Shenzen, will be published this month.

In the spirit of her new book, Lijia will be having a talk at the Bookworm in the near future. Stay tuned for news on the talk, in the meantime Bookworm manager Olivia conducted an interview with the author in which they discuss the story behind Lotus, and its unique subject matter.

 

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career? What first inspired you to write and share your stories? 

Well, I am a rocket-factory-girl-turned writer (gather you don’t meet one of those every day!) I was dragged out of school at 16 and worked at a rocket factory in Nanjing for ten years. As an escape route, I taught myself English, which effectively changed my life. In some ways, learning English furthered my interest in writing. After leaving the factory, I pursued a career in journalism. Co-authoring a history whetted my appetite for book-writing. I went on to pen my autobiography “Socialism Is Great”, which did surprisingly well.

Why did I launch a fiction project? I’ve always thought that fiction is the finer form of literacy. So I decided to give it a try.

Now why did I pick this rather unusual topic? It was inspired by a deathbed revelation that my grandma was a prostitute in her youth. And I think prostitution touches upon some serious social issues such as the urban rural divide and the growing gender inequality between men and women, and the tug of war between tradition and modernity.Also I think that a brothel is a good stage for a novel because moral dilemma often lies at the heart of a human drama.

 

  1. Did you find that the writing process for your memoir, Socialism is great!, differed with your approach to writing Lotus?

I found writing the memoir much harder. In memoir writing, I didn’t have to worry about the plot line: the structure was based on a truthful story. In fiction, you have the freedom to create anything you like. I found that freedom extremely intimidating, even though it was also exhilarating.

Another challenge was the literary style, something I battled with in the earlier drafts of the novel. Coming from a journalist background, the writing was too journalistic with too much explaining, which didn’t quite work in a literary fiction. The fiction writers have to learn to let the story itself to make the subtle point.

 

  1. Your writing provides the reader with a true insight into some of China’s challenging social issues. Was this always your goal? Why is it important to offer these insights?

In an essay entitled Why I Write, George Orwell gave four reasons: sheer egoism; aesthetic enthusiasm; historical impulse and political purpose. I would say that these four reasons apply to my case as well. I wanted to produce a literary fiction and I’d like to tell western readers what’s happening in China. It’s important to reflect the reality of modern China. For example, many people outside China know China’s rise and its economic miracle but few understand the human cost of this miracle.

 

  1. You dedicate Lotus to your maternal grandmother who was a ‘flower girl’ in the 1930s. Was it her own experiences that inspired you to write Lotus and therefore give a voice to the many women who suffered during this era?

Yes, my grandma inspired me to write Lotus. Ever since I learnt the long-kept family secret, I’ve been wondering how she had coped with her life in her brothel and what kept her going. I do believe that being a devout Buddhist helped my grandma a great deal. It’s a little wonder that the main character in Lotus is a prostitute devoted to Buddha!

Sex workers are the most valuable group of people in the society. In writing this book, I do hope to give voice to this group of women who have no voice. The authorities always look at them through the lens of crime and they are generally stigmatized by the public. Yet, the treatment of those struggling in the bottom of the society offers the real insight of a society.

 

  1. Lotus is already receiving amazing reviews for its expert pacing and description. Do you have any plans for future novels or other projects?

The novel took me 12 years to write. As admitted, I find book-length fiction perhaps too challenging for me. I am trying to write short stories, something I had first tried my hand years ago when I was still working at the missile factory. In several stories, I made use some of the material/writings chopped off from the novel!

I’ve started my next book project, a literary non-fiction on China’s left-behind children. The sheer number of them – more than 61 million of them – is just mind-blowing. I think it is a very important story to tell. In a sense, China’s future depends on how well this generation of left-behind children will prosper.

Beijing’s local talent!

The literary scene in Beijing is excitingly diverse and continues to develop and thrive. Building on a literary history going back thousands of years, a community of foreign and local authors is continuing to flourish on China’s literary scene. These authors have based their respective works on different social and historical aspects of China; some have dedicated a lifetime to researching this fascinating and rapidly-changing country.

 

We wanted to give you an idea of the growing number of authors in Beijing. Some have stayed here for a year or two, some for decades. These Beijing-based authors are special, because each author offers a different insider’s perspective on the city and/or China as a whole. At The Bookworm, we are always looking to support Beijing-based authors – well-known or emerging. Here are some local authors whose works we have in store:

 

Alec Ash

Beijing-based writer and journalist Alec Ash studied English Literature at Oxford University and has written for the BBC The Economist, BBC and Dissent to name a few. He moved to Beijing in 2008 after teaching in a Tibetan village in Western China. His non-fiction book, Wish Lanterns, tells the story of six millennials in China. Through individual stories, Wish Lanterns offers empathetic insights into the generation of children growing up post Mao.

 

Isham Cook

Originally from Chicago, Isham Cook has lived in Beijing since 1994. Cook’s works revolve around his experiences in Asia, with a focus on China. He has written both fiction and non-fiction. Cook’s passion for Asia is palpable in his novels. His works include: Massage and the Writer, The Exact Unknown and The Teahouse Café.

 

David Moser

David Moser is a professor in Chinese linguistics and holds a Master’s and PhD in Chinese studies. David did a book talk at the Bookworm to discuss his engaging book A Billion Voices, which scans the origins of Putonghua. David is currently an Academic Director of Chinese Studies at Beijing Capital Normal University and also works at China Central Television in Beijing as a program advisor, translator and host.

 

Nancy Pellegrini

Nancy Pellegrini came to China from New York in 2000. In 2005, she became stage editor of Time Out Beijing magazine and more recently Time Out Shanghai. She covers theatre, dance, classical music and opera events in both cities. She also does other writing and editing work, as well as travelling and running a classical music salon. Her book The People’s Bard focuses on the influence of Shakespeare in China. Nancy recently took part in one of The Bookworm’s Meet the Author interviews, where she talked about the writing process for The People’s Bard and why translating Shakespeare into Chinese is such a challenge! Read the interview in full here: http://beijingbookworm.com/happenings/meet-the-author-nancy-pellegrini/

 

Edward Ragg

Ragg moved to Beijing, China in 2007 and co-founded an independent wine education and consultancy service. Ragg writes poetry on contemporary China on the side. His works have been translated into Mandarin by contemporary Chinese poet Wang Ao. Ragg now teaches as a professor in the Department of Foreign Languages in Tsinghua University. His works include: A Force That Takes and Holding Unfailing.

 

Lijia Zhang

Lijia was born on the banks of the Yangtze River in Nanjing, China. She grew up in the residential compound of her mother’s factory, although she yearned to become a journalist. However, at the age of 16, she was initiated into factory working life. Through learning English and her own determination Lijia changed her fate and has become an international journalist. Her spirited memoir Socialism is Great! explores her life and personal journey. She currently lives in Beijing with her two daughters, and works as a writer, columnist, social commentator and public speaker. Her new book Lotus will be out this year.

Discover Beijing’s local talent, help us support these local authors and pick up their books today!

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