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The absence of urban literature
www.chinaview.cn 2005-06-30 09:37:42

    BEIJING, June 30 -- Writers and critics all noticed an obvious omission of urban literature in the award-winning works of the prestigious Luxun Literature Awards presented in Shenzhen on Sunday. A discussion of the reasons for and solutions to this absence was initiated at a seminar on contemporary urban literature, held as part of the event.

    All four of the awarded novellas featured rural lives, while more than half of the awarded short stories contained rural subject matter. The lack of urban subjects in the awarded works represents, to a certain extent, a lack of urban themes in contemporary literature. Critics at the seminar asked why countryside subjects were so popular and what the appropriate outlet for urban literature should be.

    Urban culture neglected

    Most critics agreed that Chinese literature was still influenced by agrarian themes and Chinese writers were more familiar with countryside subjects. Many writers lacked the ability to judge or portray urban life, as Chinese cities had undergone rapid development within the past 20 years.

    Critic Li Jingze asserted that both theorists and writers should rethink their limited literary thinking.

    Writers born after the late 1970s were grappling with complicated urban experiences, whereas critics had no idea what they were talking about or why, said Li.

    Li suggested that depictions of the lives of doctors or lawyers should be much more complex and insightful regarding contemporary life than continual depictions of farmers, and should also require more dedicated research. However, most mainstream Chinese writers and critics, coming from the countryside themselves, still focused themselves on rural subjects despite the fact that the urban experience had become a major element of China's contemporary culture.

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