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Top author launches collection of short stories

By YANG YANG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-07 08:46
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Cao Wenxuan is known for his novels, especially those for children and teenagers. [Phpto provided to China Daily]

At the 35th Beijing Book Fair in late February, Cao Wenxuan, winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2016, appeared at an event to launch the English and French translations of his short-story collection, Mom Is a Tree, and to talk about his ideas concerning the genre.

Born in 1954 in Yancheng, East China's Jiangsu province, Cao is one of the most well-known Chinese writers in the world, with more than 170 works translated into more than 40 languages.

Cao is known for his novels, especially those for children and teenagers.

Lately, his two new collections of short stories and novellas — Heise Huangyuan (Black Wilderness) and Jiudian Guaike (The Strange Man in the Tavern) — have also come out.

Cao says the two new books collect 12 and 11 short stories and novellas respectively that he carefully selected from more than 130 pieces he created.

The 12 pieces in Heise Huangyuan, through the stories and eyes of strong-minded boys, depict a wild but vibrant, simple but colorful world, which is also represented by the illustrations of realistic style included in the book.

The 11 stories in Jiudian Guaike represent the particularly precious gifts that boys receive during their growth: pure and warm friendship, courage that facilitates them to face up to hardships, kind and firm support and help, as well as keen sensitivities and observation.

The works in Mom Is a Tree tell more about touching or inspiring stories in daily life.

"I care a lot about short stories. For decades, after creating a novel, I concentrated on the creation of short stories in a period of time. Story ideas often came to my mind, and I would be attracted by them and feel that I have to write them," he says.

He also shared his method to tell whether a novel is good or not with audiences at the book even

"I have a very 'extreme' method to judge the quality of a novel. It's very simple but very effective, that is to see whether you can cut out short stories or novellas from a novel," he says.

He says he did some experiments on Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace and Victor Hugo's 93.

From War and Peace, he got six short stories and novellas, and one of them is about Natasha Rostov. From 93, he got a good story that he named Paoshou (The Cannon Beast).

"Writing fiction is to create scenes and fragments," he says.

"To write a short story is to trim carefully a scene or a fragment like how a gardener works in a garden, and to write a novel is to work on many scenes and fragments like how a farmer works in a much bigger field."


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