[转帖]Washington Post article

入得谷来,祸福自求。
Jun
Posts: 23939
Joined: 2003-12-15 11:43

[转帖]Washington Post article

Post by Jun » 2005-12-21 9:18


Will Words Fail Her?
Immigration Officials Snub Literary Sensation Yiyun Li Despite Her Peers' Praise

By Bob Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 21, 2005; C01



Five years ago, Yiyun Li had a problem: How do you persuade the literary world to take you seriously when you're a 28-year-old native Chinese speaker trying to write in English, you've published exactly nothing and your training consists of a single adult-education class?

Since then, the Beijing-born Li's career arc has been so steep it gives her peers vertigo.

She's had stories published in prestige magazines such as the New Yorker and the Paris Review. She's won the Pushcart Prize and the Plimpton Prize for New Writers. Random House has signed her to a $200,000, two-book contract, which Executive Editor Kate Medina calls -- in what qualifies as a serious understatement -- "most unusual" for a literary writer at this stage of her career. Her first book, a story collection called "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers," was published this fall to wide praise.

Now she has another problem: How do you explain to the federal immigration bureaucracy what the word "extraordinary" means?

In the summer of 2004, Li petitioned the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to become a permanent resident of the United States. To approve her application for a green card, USCIS would need to agree that she was an artist of "extraordinary ability," defined in Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 204.5(h)(2) as "a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor."

To the upper echelons of literary publishing, Li looks like a slam-dunk to meet this definition. Not to the USCIS, however. A year after she filed it, her petition was rejected.

She has appealed. A USCIS spokesman says she is likely to get her answer in a few weeks.

"Things change a lot," as a character in one of Li's stories says. "Within a blink a mountain flattens and a river dries up. Nobody knows who he'll become tomorrow."

'A Zipper on Your Mouth'

No matter what happens with her immigration petition, the mountain has already flattened for Yiyun Li: The changes she's lived through in her 33 years are remarkable. When she talks about her childhood and how she came to leave China for the United States, some memories -- such as her sister's suggestion that she watch "Baywatch" to learn how Americans dress -- cause her to burst into infectious laughter.

Most do not.

There's this memory, for example, from when she was 5: Police with a loudspeaker tell everyone in her Beijing neighborhood to gather in a field. They lead four men, bound with ropes, onto a temporary stage. An officer announces that the men are to be executed soon, after being displayed to similar gatherings in nearby neighborhoods.

"Death to the counterrevolutionary hooligans!" the officer shouts, fist raised.

"It was like a celebration," Li says now, on the phone from her office at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., where she recently accepted a tenure-track teaching job. "I was in a celebrating mood, too." Back then, she didn't know any better.

She learned. She watched her mother close the windows before speaking of certain things. She saw her horrified looks when Li's grandfather, who had been known to call Mao Zedong "the king of Hell," mouthed off about the Communist Party. She absorbed repeated warnings "never to say anything to anyone outside the house."

Li was born in 1972, the year President Richard Nixon shocked the world with his tete-a-tete with Chairman Mao. She came of age just as China was laying the groundwork for its economic boom. She remembers her physicist father traveling abroad and coming home with descriptions of the beauty of Paris -- and, just as important, permission to import the family's first refrigerator. She recalls thinking: "I hope my life won't be like this forever."

She also remembers Tiananmen Square.

In the spring of 1989, as student-led protests began to build in Beijing, Li was in high school, a 15-minute bike ride from the square. Her parents were pessimistic from the beginning -- "They said the government would shoot at people" -- but Li was more hopeful. She found herself particularly moved by a group of middle-aged men she recalls standing quietly by the side of the road. Their sign read: "We have knelt down all our lives. This is our opportunity to stand up as human beings."

On the night the army crushed the protests, Li's parents locked her in her room. Her mother ventured out and came back crying, saying she'd seen the body of an 8-year-old boy. The next morning, her father reported seeing piles of bodies in a hospital bicycle garage. A good friend was picked up for questioning.

"It was like 9/11," she says. "Everybody knew somebody" who'd been in the square that night.

Everybody in Beijing, perhaps. But Chinese television started saying right away that no one had been killed, and many outside the capital believed this.

Two years later, Li found herself in the army. Fearing a repeat of the democracy movement, the government had required all students entering Peking University to go through a year of political reeducation first.

"Imagine a zipper on your mouth," her mother told her as her army year began. "Zip it up tight." But as Li wrote last year in the British magazine Prospect, she couldn't control her anger. One day she found herself telling her squad mates about the massacre.

"Was it true people got killed?" a young woman asked.

"Don't spread rumors," her squad leader said.

After her outburst, Li became terrified of reprisals. She was lucky. The squad leader reported her, but the officer who got the report chose not to pass it on.

'I Couldn't Write in Chinese'

Out of the army, studying biology, Li focused on one goal: to get into an American graduate school. She got into four and chose the University of Iowa, in part because she could do immunology there.

Li had a boyfriend in China, to whom she is now married, but for the time being he stayed behind. Lonely, she signed up for an adult-education writing class, the kind mainly populated by middle-aged women at loose ends. The teacher singled her out for encouragement. For years that remained her only contact with other writers.

"I wrote by myself," she says.

In the fall of 2000, about to turn 28 and closing in on her immunology PhD, she started to panic -- because she'd realized that she really wanted to be a writer. She talked to her adviser and arranged to leave the program with a master's degree. The next summer, she signed up for a class taught by short-story virtuoso James Alan McPherson, a Pulitzer Prize winner.

McPherson's Southern accent flummoxed her -- "I couldn't understand most of what he said" -- but one particular point he made got through. In the Western world, and especially in America, he told the class, the focus is so much on the individual that "we have lost the community voice." But that voice is still present in writing from countries such as China and Japan.

Something clicked. Before long, Li was showing McPherson a story called "Immortality." Written from the point of view of an entire town, using the first person plural, its first sentence reads: "This story, as the story of every one of us, started long before we were born."

McPherson thought it was wonderful. "It's what a teacher lives for," he says.

Li says she was still so timid that "it blew my mind that a great writer -- a great human being -- even noticed me."

She and her writing, however, soon were getting noticed more and more.

Admitted to the Iowa Writers' Workshop -- widely viewed as the best graduate writing program in the country -- she wound up earning two additional master's degrees, one in fiction and one in creative nonfiction. Long before she finished them, she sold "Immortality" to the Paris Review. She sold another story to the New Yorker. Random House's Medina came to speak at Iowa in November 2003, and at some point was given both stories to read. She thinks she read "Immortality" on the flight back to New York.

"I remember just starting to shake, it was so good," Medina says. "I've been an editor for 150 years, and I don't jump off planes and buy books based on one story" -- but that's essentially what she did, signing Li to her two-book deal in a matter of weeks.

The first book was "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers." Its 10 stories are populated by "natives and exiles of post-Mao, post-Tiananmen China," as The Washington Post's reviewer put it: ordinary people who are "victims of tradition and change, of old barbarities and recent upheavals." Each story, the review concluded, "feels fresh, wise and alive, creating a fascinating, horrifying and heartbreaking picture of life in a country where the past never goes away."

In "Extra," an old woman has to figure out how to live after being "honorably retired" with no pension from a bankrupt garment factory. In "The Princess of Nebraska," a young Chinese immigrant is drawn to the strange American concept of "moving on." In "Immortality," a provincial Chinese town watches with reverent fascination as a young man's uncanny resemblance to Chairman Mao leads to a career as an official Mao impersonator -- a career that parallels, oddly and tragically, those of the eunuchs the town used to send to the imperial court.

Short summaries can't capture the complex poignancy of the worlds Li creates. Her style is straightforward, but McPherson thinks she's "reinvigorating the English language with rhythms and ways of speech that are found in Chinese."

More important, perhaps, writing in English has reinvigorated Li.

"Baba, if you grew up in a language that you never used to express your feelings, it would be easier to take up another language and talk more in the new language," a young woman says to her father in Li's title story. "It makes you a new person."

"I couldn't write in Chinese," Li says, acknowledging the autobiographical component of her character's observation. She held herself back both because she'd grown up in a family reluctant to express emotions directly and because of the oppressive political imperative to keep her lip zipped. In high school, she once ripped up something she'd written about Tiananmen Square just before she was to hand it in to her teacher. While in the army, she kept a journal but wrote only nature descriptions.

"When I wrote in Chinese, I censored myself," she says. "I feel very lucky that I've discovered a language I can use."

'Not Persuasive'

The first immigration lawyer Li consulted was recommended by scientist friends. When he found out she was a writer, she says, he told her she'd have to be "the second coming of Ernest Hemingway" for her petition to succeed.

She found another lawyer and filed for permanent residency in August 2004. She heard nothing for nine months, then USCIS asked for more information. In her original application, she had relied heavily on writers and editors she knew, many of them connected to the Writers' Workshop. The immigration bureau asked, among other things, for evidence that those outside her "circle of colleagues and acquaintances" considered her work significant.

Li and her friends scrambled to get additional testimonials to her "extraordinary ability." They came up with more than 20, among them:

Novelist and PEN American Center President Salman Rushdie, who noted "the exceedingly steep trajectory of her still-young career," reviewed Li's record of publication and prizes, pointed out that the kind of "far-reaching interest and buzz" she has generated is "extremely rare" and concluded that "Yiyun Li is the real thing."

New Yorker Editor David Remnick, who wrote that the magazine he runs is "dedicated to identifying young writers who are destined to become the leading writers of their generation," named Li as one of these and described her as possessing "a remarkable voice that we hadn't heard before and an extraordinary way of writing about characters caught in a rapidly changing society."

Novelist Elinor Lipman, who unknowingly touched on the skeptical lawyer's criterion for success. Lipman wrote that, although she had never met Li, "reading her rsum is like getting a glimpse of an early F. Scott Fitzgerald or a young Hemingway." She also wrote that, for a fiction writer, the New Yorker was "the pinnacle, a no-man's land, and, for 99.9 percent of the world's writers, only a dream."

None of this helped.

Li's submission, according to the decision from USCIS's Nebraska Service Center, was "not persuasive" that she had "risen to the very top of the field of endeavor." The decision also denied that "any specific works by the petitioner are particularly renowned as significant contemporary writing."

The problem, Li's supporters think, may be a failure to understand the intensely competitive world of literary publishing.

"Yiyun Li is a huge success in literary fiction," Medina says. "But how does that read," she wonders, to someone unfamiliar with the context for her accomplishments?

Asked about this, USCIS senior public affairs officer Christopher Bentley said it would be "premature for us as an organization" to comment on Li's case now. "Everything is working exactly the way it should," Bentley said. "A decision was made, the decision was disagreed with, the customer took advantage of her right to appeal that decision."

In late September, "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers" won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, which carries a prize of 50,000 euros. The award came too late to be included in Li's appeal.

Li doesn't know what she'll do if the appeal is denied. She has a temporary visa that will permit her to keep working in the United States for several more years, after which she might try again for permanent residency status.

If she can't be an American, it is not clear who she will become.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

silkworm
Posts: 4776
Joined: 2004-01-09 20:45

Post by silkworm » 2005-12-21 9:54

总的来说,poses as a victim?

Jun
Posts: 23939
Joined: 2003-12-15 11:43

Post by Jun » 2005-12-21 9:57

我好象听说过这个女作家。北大的呢。没有读过她的小说,不过既然上了纽约人,应该文笔是不错的。I find it fascinating. 我认为她应该写她想写的题材,如果中国的黑暗面是她的兴趣所在,我没意见。

DeBeers
Posts: 1644
Joined: 2003-12-05 9:56
Contact:

Post by DeBeers » 2005-12-21 10:08

没看懂唉,她不是接受了某个学校教书的offer吗?拿绿卡有什么难的?至于写成这样吗? :roll:
钻石恒久远

karen
Posts: 3020
Joined: 2003-11-22 18:51

Post by karen » 2005-12-21 10:10

http://www.grad.uiowa.edu/profiles/alumni/Li.asp
There is a picture of her there.
Now I am curious of what she writes, but I have an inkling that since she is so well accepted by the literary circle here, she probably doesn't stray far from the usual subject. :roll:

Knowing
Posts: 31376
Joined: 2003-11-22 20:37

Post by Knowing » 2005-12-21 10:15

I am inspired. I shall take up writing and I shall write my way to fame, fortune and greencard. After all, I know quite a few editors and writers and I was born in China :twisted:
Last edited by Knowing on 2005-12-21 10:23, edited 1 time in total.
Nevertheless, she persisted.

karen
Posts: 3020
Joined: 2003-11-22 18:51

Post by karen » 2005-12-21 10:18

I googled and found the last New Yorker short story she did. Yeah, I remember that one, The Man who Eats is very typical of what you expect a Chinese writer to write in English. The scope of subject is entirely stuck in the past, around late 60's and 70's. And she will let you know in the very first sentence that she is writing about the Chinese, that immediately the readers (mostly white of course) feel that they are stepping into a different world.
I am thinking, how much longer can they milk this stuff?

http://www.yiyunli.com/articles.html

Knowing
Posts: 31376
Joined: 2003-11-22 20:37

Post by Knowing » 2005-12-21 10:22

Eunuchs and Tiananmen Square event...Yuck!!! :uhh: I wonder why I dislike her work at a glance.
Nevertheless, she persisted.

karen
Posts: 3020
Joined: 2003-11-22 18:51

Post by karen » 2005-12-21 10:26

Yeah, sadly that's the niche the Chinese writers cornered. :f28:
She is just another Amy Tan, with fancier steps of course.

silkworm
Posts: 4776
Joined: 2004-01-09 20:45

Post by silkworm » 2005-12-21 10:34

She's definitely darker than Amy Tan.

Let me try to find one of her pieces.

洛洛
Posts: 2564
Joined: 2003-12-05 12:35

Post by 洛洛 » 2005-12-21 10:35

Knowing wrote:I am inspired. I shall take up writing and I shall write my way to fame, fortune and greencard. After all, I know quite a few editors and writers and I was born in China :twisted:
我不看好你小k,你的良知会阻止你走向成名之路。你连同事塞给门卫的20美元都暗暗警惕呢。
混坛上另一颗新星
luoluo11.ycool.com

Knowing
Posts: 31376
Joined: 2003-11-22 20:37

Post by Knowing » 2005-12-21 10:39

嗯?难道成名的道路上不是铺满了鲜花和掌声,大家都二十二十的塞给我钱么?
Nevertheless, she persisted.

silkworm
Posts: 4776
Joined: 2004-01-09 20:45

Post by silkworm » 2005-12-21 10:40

Found it.

What Has That to Do with Me?
http://www.gettysburg.edu/academics/get ... ew/yli.htm

karen
Posts: 3020
Joined: 2003-11-22 18:51

Post by karen » 2005-12-21 10:59

我看两行就看不下去了。
I don't get it, she writes it like it's her personal history, but she is not born till the 70's, right? Not like she suffered due the Cultural Revolution and the Red Guards.

Knowing
Posts: 31376
Joined: 2003-11-22 20:37

Post by Knowing » 2005-12-21 11:12

If you read a bit further into the story, she started talking about her unpleasant memory with a daycare 'auntie" when she was 6, in 1978, still in cultural revolution. But by then I was pretty borned and dropped it too.
Nevertheless, she persisted.

笑嘻嘻
Posts: 20490
Joined: 2003-11-22 18:00

Post by 笑嘻嘻 » 2005-12-21 11:27

文笔不咋地啊。
昨夜灯光穿过雨水,落在这海的城市。
----- 颖川

Jun
Posts: 23939
Joined: 2003-12-15 11:43

Post by Jun » 2005-12-21 12:00

我不能说喜欢她的文字,但是我得说我绝对写不出她写的这样的文章。

她这么成功,我一点也不奇怪。

平直的文字,其实跟血淋淋的内容放在一起很相称。

而且我很理解她说的不能用中文写,这些故事,她只能用另一个语言来写。

Knowing
Posts: 31376
Joined: 2003-11-22 20:37

Post by Knowing » 2005-12-21 12:02

jun 你肯定没读过八十年代的小说月刊,钟山之类的杂志。那上面都是这样的小说。所以我看了觉得无限陈腐。
Nevertheless, she persisted.

汝南
Posts: 193
Joined: 2004-10-05 11:34
Contact:

Post by 汝南 » 2005-12-21 12:08

Amy Tan好歹是美国生美国长的,对中国不了解,说些道听途说的故事还可以理解。这些作家,Ha Jin,Jung Chang,Xinran,唉,真是没话好说了。说来说去不过是这些故事,西方人看这些故事真是像吃臭豆腐,上瘾了。
Let it be light.

Jun
Posts: 23939
Joined: 2003-12-15 11:43

Post by Jun » 2005-12-21 12:09

Nope. I have not. But I assume she is sincere rather than repetitive.

西方的文学读者,看多了象牙塔里神经质的大学语文教授跟女学生上床的故事,纽约知识分子的alienation,一样觉得陈腐,当然这种故事和讲故事的口气都是新鲜的,震撼的。

而且我坚决支持他们写这些小说和文章的愿望和权力,我不认为他们写是为了投人所好。没有人会喜欢写这种故事的。至于独创性和文学价值,或许没有被推崇的那么好,但那是另一回事,那是编辑和读者自己的事。

我跟她是同一代人,反正我自己写不出来。

花差花差小将军
Posts: 2374
Joined: 2003-12-09 15:11

Post by 花差花差小将军 » 2005-12-21 12:50

我今天一看报纸上面的这个,也是读了几行就看不下去了,海明威? 哈哈她是中国的海明威? :mrgreen:
脚翘黄天宝
光吃红国宝

water
Posts: 193
Joined: 2004-12-24 15:49

Post by water » 2005-12-21 12:51

汝南 wrote:说来说去不过是这些故事,西方人看这些故事真是像吃臭豆腐,上瘾了。
:lol: :lol: That's an insult to 臭豆腐, one of my favorite food.

Jun
Posts: 23939
Joined: 2003-12-15 11:43

Post by Jun » 2005-12-21 13:08

Being praised and popular isn't her fault. You don't have to like her, but there is no need to insult her.
Last edited by Jun on 2005-12-21 14:01, edited 2 times in total.

洛洛
Posts: 2564
Joined: 2003-12-05 12:35

Post by 洛洛 » 2005-12-21 13:10

噫,我可不承认我和她是同一代人,我要说我还年轻呢。 :f16:
混坛上另一颗新星
luoluo11.ycool.com

karen
Posts: 3020
Joined: 2003-11-22 18:51

Post by karen » 2005-12-21 13:43

花差花差小将军 wrote:我今天一看报纸上面的这个,也是读了几行就看不下去了,海明威? 哈哈她是中国的海明威? :mrgreen:
:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Her writing is relentlessly direct. I agree with Jun that her style blends well with the subjects she chose to write, and her detached as-matter-of-fact tone makes the brutality she describes even more chilling.
But is this a style that she can develope over a long literary career? How long can you write like this?

water
Posts: 193
Joined: 2004-12-24 15:49

Post by water » 2005-12-21 13:54

hehe, insult to her? What I was refering is the taste of westerners. They seem enjoying the supriority of watching the dark, dark side of chinese society. But which society doesn't have a dark side?

I didn't read her stories. So no comment. Just wondering. She is 31 year old. When she was born cultural revolution was almost done. My generation, my friends around me, have no memory of it at all.

tiffany
Posts: 23376
Joined: 2003-11-22 20:59

Post by tiffany » 2005-12-21 14:02

她33岁啦,北京胡同出身,可能。家世恐怕不错。北大生物系,我捅捅蚕说:认得么?
自由早晚乱余生

karen
Posts: 3020
Joined: 2003-11-22 18:51

Post by karen » 2005-12-21 14:02

By the way, talk about Hemingway, my brother just send me something on "American Method":

the short, precise sentences; the depiction of a character ostensibly without consciousness; and, in places, the "tough guy" tone. Hemingway, Dos Passos, Faulkner, Cain, and others had pointed the way......

She does write in "short, precise" sentences and take a matter-of-fact tone that could be " ostensibly without consciousness", but I don't know... It just feels off.

Knowing
Posts: 31376
Joined: 2003-11-22 20:37

Post by Knowing » 2005-12-21 14:03

:shock: You call THAT detached as matter of fact tone? She piled up chilling 'facts' (not sure how true they are, but definitely not her first hand experience, 2nd, 3rd ..nth hands, since news like that are most likely urban legends passed around between friends) to seek reader's immediate attention. That is CHEAP!
Nevertheless, she persisted.

tiffany
Posts: 23376
Joined: 2003-11-22 20:59

Post by tiffany » 2005-12-21 14:07

咳,小k同学你不能拿你自己的标准来要求别人。
当然我觉得这个人其实也不适合作试验,因为北大第一年军训明显的就给mispresented,军训学生显然不是当兵啊,这么对付她的数据,啧啧啧。
自由早晚乱余生

silkworm
Posts: 4776
Joined: 2004-01-09 20:45

Post by silkworm » 2005-12-21 14:20

我不认识她,既不同级也不同系。我妈教过她们那一级,印象模糊。印象深的无非是考分巨高的或者格外调皮的。

说到军训,前面我提的那篇文章里写了军训的。别的我不敢胡说,关于军训的,我看了挺别扭的,给形容得跟什么似的,牛棚干校一样。

北大复旦学生一年的军训,肯定比其它大学暑假里一个月的军训残酷一些。但是比起应届考进军队院校的高中生所经历的训练,还是轻松100倍,更不要提一般新兵营了。要照她那么描述,新兵连还不得是地狱级别的。

朱天文写过一篇文章,关于哈金去台湾访问的。链接如下:http://bbs.culture.163.com/zhangmi/2295 ... ,40,1.html
“哈金和高行健的成就,无疑提升了华人自尊和信心,也意味华人创作路线将愈来愈向西方文学潮流靠拢。”恍惚间,他差点以为这是记者的戏仿?还是反讽?还是时光倒流一则中华少棒荣获世界冠军的消息?

……

  他说,他看的时候很困惑,一直困惑到现在……(室内一暗,他感觉那是?那是哈金的脸容正了一正,肃耳欲听。那一暗,嘘,请听,命运的斗篷似只大鸟泼剌剌飞过他们头上。)
  其实在座很多同业,同行,刚才有几位也谈及……您回答时也说了……(哈金已十分明确的表白,关于华文写作,加不加入,肯定绝不多他一个人。他生活在美国,他必须选择以英文生存,思考和写作。你看,哈金可自己比谁都清楚极了。)
  但我有些还是困惑……(他犹豫在辞令和真话之间,遂这般的语焉不详一句句如罕迹之路消失于删节号的沙漠中。)
  我想我因应该读英文本。(好个社交辞令)
  因为评论总提到您使用的英文,简洁、直接,有海明威风(两天后他读到一篇专访,哈金自己的用语是,中性的英文),可是翻译成中文,这些,都没有了。没有了之后,只剩下题材,可是这题材……(他想把话语扭往另一个方向,但话语已有劳他自己的出路而走向前方。)
  在读的时候,就有一个参照系统。这个参照系是,大陆从70年代末开始出现的寻根文学,当然那之前的伤痕文学我们也看得够多了,都是,题材。其中像(参照于哈金笔下木基市地方志式的道德史)东北有郑万隆、西北有张承志,太行山有李锐,陕西有贾平凹,南方有湘西的韩少功,80年代一路到现在二十年来,该怎么说……(他博力扭往前去的话语,工冬工冬,格斗声再也掩护不了的传泄出来。)
  因为参照系统在那里,像是(他突然长出复眼似的瞧见斜后八点钟方向一位同业,抱紧两臂垂下头预见灾难即将发生而好想从现场隐形掉的样子。)读您的书感觉上像是科普版。
  (他以为自己至少补饰以轻松幽默的语气了,显然没有。或其实他的意思是,科普书的贡献多大呀,深入浅出担当着桥梁角色,不容易的。)
  就说《汤姆历险记》,(他逆势一搏,擒住一个支轴点,把话朝后扳。)
  我小时候度青少年版,后来才知道它非常世故,非常多细节是本成人看的书――(此时支轴点超过负荷,崩叭,断了。)
  (他跟话语被强大作用力弹到空中,四散落下,不,不是落下,是失去重力的,他跟他支解了的话语在室内无主漂浮。他倒栽葱看见宛若一块浮木的《汤姆历险记》漂向天花板,天啊为什么是它?《汤姆历险记》?近日不知为何突然出现于客厅录像机上,然后出其不意打他话语里露面,弄到两俩这样子的颠倒重逢?)
  
  (语言肢骸与他便在这个密闭空间里沉浮交错着,在座皆成为这一幕景观的目击者。)
  像您这样也有用英文写中国人故事的书……(他及时闭嘴没有让那些不能模拟且根本不同级的书名跑出来,《喜福会》,《女斗士》之类。)
  当然您跟他们不一样……
  只是您刚才曾说,用英文写作让您感到孤绝……
  怪怪的噢,(嗫嚅语,唯他自个儿一人听见。)
  我的意思是……高行健罢,他长居法国,但他只用中文写作,(写作需要孤绝,这不是更孤绝)。
  也不必为发表,(他疯了,他是指哈金不该发表作品?)
  本来创作就是在跟自己对话,整理自己,自问自答,(那是他自家关起门来事,难不成他要当众脱衣?)
  怎么说,人活着吧罢,(天啊公共场合讲生死,他当真要脱衣服了?)
  就是口气,(他开始脱了。)
  不管怎样总要有活下去的理由,创作就是这个理由罢……(他又脱了一件。)这个参照系统……支援系统……
  
  (他求助的四面八方望去,众已不忍而纷纷拉上了屏幕,唯台上主持人,勇敢目视他并还带有笑容。)
  如果这样说不会冒犯的话,(拜托他真的脱光了。)
  我觉得出版这三部中译小说是弄了一个科普版……
  谢谢。
  (他力图保持尊严地坐下。)
Last edited by silkworm on 2005-12-21 15:01, edited 2 times in total.

Jun
Posts: 23939
Joined: 2003-12-15 11:43

Post by Jun » 2005-12-21 14:24

不排除编辑们吃多了山珍海味,被青菜豆腐征服的可能。

六四时我不住在北京但是住在北京的或许有比较深的trauma。而且我觉得她有种代入感,或许是小时候看的枪毙人的场面留下的印象,让她不自主地认同和代入文革受害者角色。我记得小时候学校领着看过的南京大屠杀的展览,可以算是我自己的childhood trauma。

silkworm
Posts: 4776
Joined: 2004-01-09 20:45

Post by silkworm » 2005-12-21 14:33

她的这种代入感显然超级强烈。

换个角度来看:Having to use toilet stalls that had no doors angered me.
没门儿的厕所,哈,那是军训中最trivial的细节。我敢肯定中国此时此刻还有无穷多的城市厕所没门儿。

对我来说,军训中比较折磨人的细节是除了自己带的英语书,没有别的书可看。我的朋友每周从北京寄一份北京青年报周末版来,整个中队100来号人至少有一半人排队等着看。

倒是军训后一半的拉练,走进大别山深处“革命老区”,沿路看到的中国人的生存状态,给我最大的冲击---我看李翊云也差不多是生长在城里一般知识分子家庭的孩子,如果不是军训,一辈子也不会接触到社会的这个层面。

当然了,我印象深刻的这些事,does not sell。(不是仅指书的销量)

tiffany
Posts: 23376
Joined: 2003-11-22 20:59

Post by tiffany » 2005-12-21 14:34

别逗了,她不能看过枪毙场面。所谓一条绳子四个人被振臂高呼口号,那个最多是游行示众------她72年出生,看到这个场面是5岁,即77年,彼时文化革命已经基本结束,而当时刑事犯服刑前时不长先行游街。她也就看到了这个,还真能组织一批人去郊外看执行?就算真有这事儿,她妈妈也不能让她去!
自由早晚乱余生

Jun
Posts: 23939
Joined: 2003-12-15 11:43

Post by Jun » 2005-12-21 14:34

当然了,我印象深刻的这些事,does not sell。(不是仅指书的销量)
How do you know, my friend? It just might.

xp
Posts: 13
Joined: 2005-11-09 13:48

Post by xp » 2005-12-21 14:37

数以千计的中国人通过EB1-EA, EB1-OR,或是NIW申请到了绿卡。如果你在一个看似高深或是重要的领域做研究,只要能让审批申请的人(通常没有技术背景)相信这一行当关系到美国国计民生(癌症,爱滋,全球变暖,etc),不管有多少steps removed,最后往往都能批准,不需要有job offer, 甚至连博士学位也不需要到手. 李翊云的申请失败,看起来一是文科的成就不如理科能唬人,二是她那些推荐人虽然名头响亮,写信的重点却放在她的写作能力上,而不是强调她和同行的人比起来如何出色,美国如何缺了她不行。

我不认为没有亲身经历过文革就一定不能写。七八十年代的伤痕文学的作者都亲身经历过,但是其中哀悼的成分居多,反思的内容极其有限(当然有作者自身以及环境的双重限制)。《小草在歌唱》可以算是一个例子吧。

我没看过李翊云的其他文章,但是What Has That to Do with Me? 从写作上来说,这一篇的场景变换看起来很出色,穿插得天衣无缝。从内容上来说,其中的素材,起码是一部分的素材,我们小时候不会没有经历过:不懂得尊重孩子的老师甚至家长;老百姓把上街看赴刑场的囚车过市甚至看枪决当作一种娱乐。我相信很少人在经历的当时会觉得受到了大的伤害,更少人会觉得这些经历影响了自己的人生。所以对李翊云的文章的第一印象是哗众取宠是很自然的。但是我认为一个好的作者,就是要敏感,记性好,能够把这些通通找回来来深刻分析。

至于这篇文章里更血淋淋的场景,既然有李九莲的事实背景,那么加上一点文学的夸张也不算过分。好的作品总是挖掘黑暗的,中国并不比任何其它地方不黑暗些,没必要受害者情结地一看到写中国的黑暗就跳脚。
Last edited by xp on 2005-12-21 15:00, edited 1 time in total.

Jun
Posts: 23939
Joined: 2003-12-15 11:43

Post by Jun » 2005-12-21 14:43

我相信很少人在经历的当时会觉得受到了大的伤害,更少人会觉得这些经历影响了自己的人生。
Yes, it does, but often people prefer not to mine it or express it or write about it. But the remembrance is not necessarily diminished by the lack of eloquance.

花差花差小将军
Posts: 2374
Joined: 2003-12-09 15:11

Post by 花差花差小将军 » 2005-12-21 14:43

wow, this sounds familiar :roll: :mrgreen:
脚翘黄天宝
光吃红国宝

silkworm
Posts: 4776
Joined: 2004-01-09 20:45

Post by silkworm » 2005-12-21 14:50

我们在这儿一看一聊,我觉得且没有“跳脚”的程度吧? :party003:

我换个角度来说。比方说,大山(JUN你也许不知道这个人?),那个加拿大人,学了很溜儿很溜儿的中文,溜儿到能说相声的程度。然后他用中文写一本书,事儿都是有关加拿大的,瞎说哈,比如50年代怎么镇压加拿大共产党员,比如怎么小时候在学校里被灌输基督教教义,不给学达尔文的进化论。作者自述用英语,这些都写不出的,用了中文才行。

然后呢,孔庆东、张颐武、甚至余杰什么(胡乱拉几个人名充数)的写评论文章,夸奖大山文字很好,有老舍曹禺汪曾祺之风。

笑嘻嘻
Posts: 20490
Joined: 2003-11-22 18:00

Post by 笑嘻嘻 » 2005-12-21 14:57

小K说的不错,果然特别像当年简写版的伤痕文学。要说场景变换,她写的东西哪有任何情节有什么场景,好像是最陈述事实的控诉状。
昨夜灯光穿过雨水,落在这海的城市。
----- 颖川

Jun
Posts: 23939
Joined: 2003-12-15 11:43

Post by Jun » 2005-12-21 15:01

第一,编辑夸奖不夸奖,是他们的事,无需责怪作者。

第二,不论别人觉得她的叙述是否真实可信,我感觉她在主观上是诚恳的。我不敢跟别人拉上“同辈”,但是我只说自己,可以说经历过比较类似的时代和环境。我自己没有类似的童年和少年印象,不等于她的强烈的受害者印象就不是valid,而是故意地歪曲现实。她选择的题材或许是她在编辑中成功的客观因素之一,但她的动机未必是投机的。

Knowing
Posts: 31376
Joined: 2003-11-22 20:37

Post by Knowing » 2005-12-21 15:02

我不在乎人说中国黑暗面。但不能凡是个中国人就觉得有权利把任何非她时代非她生活非她体验范围内的每件中国发生的事据为己有。夸张的说,要有我们的同龄人写一小说讲她妈给她缠足多痛苦,内容主要抄袭自某纪实文学/小鞋展览,你看了能不感到厌烦么?小说不要求是发生在作者身上的。可是瞎编也不行啊。总得做点homework. 尤其她显然是写实主义。
Nevertheless, she persisted.

笑嘻嘻
Posts: 20490
Joined: 2003-11-22 18:00

Post by 笑嘻嘻 » 2005-12-21 15:10

我真的是觉得她写的不好,这样简写版的文章,我不能看出她是真的听说过还是感受过当时的情况,不能因为用的形容词少,没有细节,就是写实主义。
她的写作中的愤怒的情绪,很明显,她完全没有把自己的情绪和故事分开。这种情绪很多人都有,在听到了件惨事的时候,比如网上。
昨夜灯光穿过雨水,落在这海的城市。
----- 颖川

Jun
Posts: 23939
Joined: 2003-12-15 11:43

Post by Jun » 2005-12-21 15:16

I can't say I like her writing per se, but I respect her for being able to write about very intense feelings and stories. I know I cannot do it myself. I cannot write the kind of fiction she does, and I'm impressed by that fact alone.

And her writing IS very subjective. The intensity and perception are at least authentic, it seems to me. What's wrong with that? Different people may have entirely different emotional reactions to the same thing. Even a historical or remote piece of fact you read in newspaper leaves different impressions on people. I never lived through WW2, and I never will attempt to write about it, but it does leave me with an intense feeling whenever I think about it. She is able to express her subjective emotions. I think it's entirely valid. If the ignorant foreigners interpret this as historical facts, it's not her fault either.

And I'm fascinated because I do understand certain aspects of her writing experience, ie, being a native Chinese speaker but feeling more comfortable writing in English. I don't think this is selling out or a gimmick. I find it interesting.

xp
Posts: 13
Joined: 2005-11-09 13:48

Post by xp » 2005-12-21 15:26

我看不出李翊云和大山的可比性. 李并不以英文流利或是文笔好著称,她的简洁文风其实恰恰是因为英文程度有限. 而她受到的表扬,除了少数几个政治立场鲜明的媒体以外,重点都是她对人性的描述, 有些还强调了这和社会文化背景无关.

她有很多瞎编的内容么? 我从这篇没看出来. 我看到的是她从自己的切身经历联想出去, 所说的场景变化也指的是这个. 我还没看过她写得关于下岗工人的文章,也许多看几篇会有数.

这篇What Has That to Do with Me是nonfiction,不是故事,她也不是要讲故事,情绪正是她要表达的内容。如果写的是细节真实完整,却只敢批判自己自私的“故事", 那才成了伤痕文学。

water
Posts: 193
Joined: 2004-12-24 15:49

Post by water » 2005-12-21 16:00

xp wrote: 我不认为没有亲身经历过文革就一定不能写。
Of course you can. However, it depends on how you write it. If you are writing in a subjective and personal way, I doubt. I guess nowadays fiction is officially equivalent to hearsay.

ravaged
Posts: 494
Joined: 2003-12-06 0:16

Post by ravaged » 2005-12-22 0:15

i have to admit that i had the gut reaction of "here we go again..."
immediately upon reading the first two sentences. :-D but after
actually finishing the essay, i have to say that she could well have
a great career writing in english. much of the roughness in her
writing is, well, just roughness, but she has a way of
communicating with the reader that can be quite powerful.

i'm sure a considerable amount of the attention she receives here
results from a fascination with an alien culture and its ridiculous
history as well as the usual stereotypes and hangups. but that doesn't
necessarily reduce her to a sensationalist tabloid columnist. she's
still young. we'll see if she makes it.

i do have to profess, again, my unconditional hatred toward "wild
swans." :-P
Now that happy moment between the time the lie is told and when it is found out.

汝南
Posts: 193
Joined: 2004-10-05 11:34
Contact:

Post by 汝南 » 2005-12-22 7:33

Maybe, "wild goslings" are more appropriate.

西方评论家对这些作家也有两种对立的看法。一类是把他们吹得无比好。语言不够地道有中文味,则是给英文吹来了清新的风;句子简单,便是海明威。一类是说他们不过尔尔,挑剔他们的语言内容。前些日子,英国卫报有篇哈金《战争垃圾》的书评,说哈金的英文如何的不行。即使对用中文写作的高行建,我也看到过一篇贬斥他的书评。我真的看不出高行建两部长篇好在哪儿,尤其是一个人的圣经。他提倡的生活哲学是活在当下,而我感觉其实就是活在“裆下”。
语言的选择决定写作的读者对象。为什么那些留学生作家,於梨华、聂华苓、小楂等选择中文写作他们的美国经历?是他们的英文不够好吗?是他们对中国的经历无话可说吗?
我看了很多这类作品,包括哈金的所有作品。我同意他们对中国对中国人有不少深刻的洞察,也因为不在中国不用中文写作,多了点表述上的自由,但很大程度上,还是与西方的“东方主义”同谋。
Let it be light.

汝南
Posts: 193
Joined: 2004-10-05 11:34
Contact:

Post by 汝南 » 2005-12-22 7:56

有受害者情结的并不是我们这些读者,而是这些写作者,反反复复拿小脚小妾然后是文革六四说事。中国的黑暗并不否认,也不是人家一揭丑,就有爱国主义民族主义情绪作祟,急急地去护短。问题是看他们写什么,怎么写?
《鸿》的作者曾到我们学校来演讲。拿出一双旅游商店买的小脚绣花鞋来说,这是她外婆留给她的。我的判断是基于:1)这双鞋缎面簇新闪亮。哪有缎面经过差不多一世纪还不褪色的(这是个小型的礼堂,我坐在第二排);2)我在国内的旅游商店看到同样的。她还说,她中学时候的英文课本,第一课是Long Live Chairman Mao 第二课有对话,两个人互问“have you eaten?" 尽管文革,精通英文的人应该还是不少的。要不这些人都下了牛棚,找了个三脚猫编的课本。 该作者还曾向卫报的记者说:裹小脚,是要搬了石头砸脚的。
Let it be light.

tiffany
Posts: 23376
Joined: 2003-11-22 20:59

Post by tiffany » 2005-12-22 10:54

好吧,我恶意的揣测一下所谓这篇非小说的相当明显的外国人腔调英文是故意的---也不算恶意揣测哈,往好处想就是风格,往坏处想就是另类苏丝黄。说不定移民官就是不喜欢这种写作风格,也未可知。
呃,听说当年李谷一申请绿卡的时候也被要求补材料来着。 :mrgreen:
自由早晚乱余生

Post Reply