New project celebrates contemporary Chinese fiction

A major project highlighting contemporary Chinese writing launches at the University of Leeds this week.

Chen Xiwo

Writing Chinese: Authors, Authority and Authorship begins on Thursday 9 October with the visit of outspoken novelist and activist Chen Xiwo.

Dr Frances Weightman, Director of East Asian Studies in the University’s School of Cultures, Languages and Societies, said:

“We’ve organised author events, a virtual book club and translation workshop, all open to the public, and our aim is to establish Leeds as the centre for new Chinese writing in the north of England.

“We hope to foster closer links and dialogue between writers, translators, publishers, readers, literary agents and academics working in the field of contemporary Chinese literature, and to help promote new Chinese writers in the UK.”

Writing Chinese, part of the White Rose East Asia Centre, is based at the University of Leeds, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

It will involve a series of public talks, readings and other activities over the coming academic year, culminating in a symposium in Leeds in July 2015.

A translation masterclass and competition are also in the pipeline, together with regular blogs at featuring articles on contemporary Chinese fiction and interviews with writers, translators, and others working in the field.

A regular virtual book club is also launched this month, focusing on up-and-coming authors, so people can join in wherever in the world they are. Chen Xiwo is the featured author for October.

He has emerged as one of China’s most notable dissident voices, with a series of speeches and articles calling for freedom of expression. At the University, he will be reading from his award-winning novella collection The Book of Sins, the first of his works to be published in English. His work is regularly banned in China.

“By showcasing the varied subject-matter of these new stories, and the often shocking and explicit themes which they address, we aim to challenge readers' preconceptions about China and Chinese culture,” said Dr Weightman.

* Chen Xiwo, his translator Nicky Harman and publisher Harvey Thomlinson will give a reading and answer questions in Leeds University Business School’s Maurice Kenworthy seminar room 1.06 from 4.30-6pm on Thursday [9 October]. The launch of Writing Chinese will follow from 6-7pm.

* To find out more about the project or register for a translation workshop on 1 November, email or visit

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