The story appears on

Page B13

December 8, 2013

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Sunday » Book

Yin Jianling: Writer of children’s literature treasures ‘Journey to the West’

Q: What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Linda Sue Park’s 2002 Newbery Award-winning story “A Single Shard.” The story is set in 12th-century Korea. Thirteen-year-old orphan Tree-ear lives under a bridge in a potter’s village famed for delicate celadon ware. He becomes fascinated with the potter’s craft; he wants nothing more than to watch master potter Min at work, and he dreams of making a pot of his own someday. Even if it means taking a long, solitary journey on foot to the royal court with nothing to show but a single celadon shard. I like the tranquility transmitted from the book as Park goes into great detail in describing life back then. I am also enchanted by the process of pottery making. The novel is more of a story about history and adventure than a child’s life story.

Q: What’s your ideal reading experience?

The best reading experience is in the journey. The train, the plane, even the airport waiting room ... all could be good reading places. A book in hand, I have no desire for conversation or distraction. It’s reading that makes the journey less boring. My heart has gone afar even as I sit still in the car.

Q: Do you have a favorite world classic?

“Journey to the West,” a Chinese novel written in the 16th century by Wu Cheng’en. I regard it as the earliest children’s literature in China. Its mission-based storytelling model, the imaginary characters and those implied moral messages are the typical elements of a children’s literature. “Journey to the West” is a book for both adults and children, which makes an excellent addition to children’s literature.

Q: Who are the best Chinese writers working today?

Three immediately come to my mind: Fang Fang, Han Shaogong and Chi Zijian. I like Fang Fang for her humanity, Han Shaogong for his wits and Chi Zijian for her pure and poetic language. I have also read books by Li Bihua, a Hong Kong writer, whose words are like daggers that may penetrate your innermost thoughts. And I admire Taiwan’s noted writer Bai Xianyong. Bai seems to know much more about women than women themselves. I like the aristocratic characters in his novels.

Q: Are there “surprising” books on your bookshelves?

My collection is perfectly stereotypical. Apart from literature, I have books on religion, arts, psychology, philosophy, botany, geography, medicine ... And I read “I Ching,” or “The Book of Changes.” For a writer, no book is useless ...  I am a sucker for books on cooking, and I love to cook and eat delicious food.

Q: Do you have a favorite childhood literary character or hero?

I grew up reading books written by Qin Wenjun. The girls in Qin’s teen girl collections remain my favorites. With careful sensitivity, Qin explores her characters from within and without. Their little woman thoughts and feelings sometimes made me laugh. And their loneliness and truthfulness mirrored my feelings. “The Growth of a Girl” featuring Qin’s own teenage experience is one of the best juvenile fiction I have ever read.

Q: If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be?

I think readers should get to know their favorite authors though their books. I don’t want to meet any writer in person, because reading their works is enough.

Q: What’s the highlight of the year?

I took part in the first Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair in November for book readings and stage interviews. I met my youngest fan — a three-year-old girl. Also at the book fair, a mother bought a whole set of my essays collection “To the Future You — 15 Letters to Girls” for her eight-year-old daughter.

A patient with late-stage breast cancer, the mother told me she wished my letters, which deal with growing up, body changes, friendship, love, sex and dreams, would accompany her daughter through the trials and tribulations of adolescence, which she may not be able to make it through.

By year’s end, my new novel “Love — Grandma and Me” will be published by the New Buds Publishing House. It is a story about my grandma who has just passed away at age 99. I missed her though she was not my biological grandma. When I wrote the stories, I broke down in tears many times. I’m sure they will touch the hearts of readers around the world as words created in the true spirit of love should have no boundaries.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend