“Frogs” by Mo Yan did not receive the Dangdai award. The short list included all the books people are talking about in Beijing : the novels by A-Lai, Su Tong, Zhang Ling. Liu Zhenyun won the prize with “A Word Is Worth a Thousand Words. “after being the winner in 2007 with ” My name is Liu Yuejin “.
Liu Zhenyun was fortunate to have Sebastian Veg (1) as a translator for two books published by Bleu de Chine: “Les Mandarins” in 2004 and a collection of two short stories “Peaux d’ail et plumes de poulet” in 2006.
Liu Zenyun was born in Henan in 1958, he was a soldier for three years, then a teacher and joined Beijing University reopening after the Cultural Revolution.
He tries to describe realistically the bureaucracy facing the new economic conditions. He became famous with the TV adaptation of the short story “Garlic skin and chicken feathers “which tells us the story of a young man, in a bureaucracy, turning cynical with the daily worries and the pressure of his bosses.
In “The Mandarins” he describes a government department, overstaffed, poorly educated and corrupt, at the time of a cabinet reshuffle.
Liu Zenyun is a very prolific writer, three long novels (not translated) taking place in his village in Henan during different historical periods.
His novel “The cellular phone” describes a television star who talks, talks…, he lies to his wife, his friends, his mistresses and ultimately is betrayed by his mobile. The novel has sold 300,000 copies, a success that supported the film produced by Feng Xiagong .
Success again for “My name is Liu Yuejin”: the bag of the head of a village, migrant worker, is robbed with documents and savings. To find them, he will have to find his way at the lowest levels of the city, a dangerous game described with a lot of humor. Again, a film shot in 2007 by Ma Liwen where Liu Zhenyun plays a small part.
‘A Word Is Worth a Thousand Words ” is published by An Boshun and takes us back in the author’s Henan village. It is a book on the difficulty to communicate, to speak about what is truly personal. The absence of religion is for the author the root cause. As he told to xinhuanet.com “This is not God who makes the difference, the fact is that God allows people to communicate and share something anywhere at any time. It is quite different from a close friend who can constantly change. “
(1) Sebastian Veg, with a diploma in literature, Lu Xun specialist ,is a member of the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China, now a professor in Hong Kong. He has written a very interesting book “Fictions du pouvoir chinois, littérature , modernisme et démocratie au début du 20eme siècle”. Editions de l’EHESS, 2009.