Liu Daxian (刘大先) , left) has just published a persuasive call to recognize the great value of “mother-tongue literature” (多民族母语文学) to Chinese literature (中国文学) as a whole. Liu is a member of the editorial staff at the quarterly Studies of Ethnic Literature (民族文学研究) who did a stint in 2009 as a visiting scholar at Columbia U in New York.
Much of what appears in Chinese on the web site of the Ethnic Literature Institute (中国民族文学网) is so full of politically-charged jabberwocky that my eyes occasionally glide off the screen. Liu’s articles are a wonderful exception.
While it may seem self-evident, this viewpoint does need to be elaborated and defended in 21st century China. For one thing, post-1949 China had an entirely state-run economy until Deng Xiaoping opened the door to Sino-foreign joint ventures and private enterprise in the early 80s, and even today China remains a one-party state. Variety has not always been the “spice of life,” and at times official policy has called for minority writers to contribute to New China by painting a sugar-sweet picture of multi-ethnic harmony. Period. [Read more…]