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Writing his own reality

By Yang Yang | China Daily | Updated: 2023-07-08 09:26
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Peng Jianbin. [Photo provided to China Daily]

When Peng Jianbin was a grade-two student at a boarding high school in Guiyang county, Central China's Hunan province, 24 years ago, as a top student excelling in the sciences, he was looking for a way to entertain himself. Finding that few people went to the reading room, he decided to go there every noon during nap time.

Peng's love for literature burgeoned as he read essays about rural areas in a magazine, which he naturally felt connected to as a young man from the countryside. He also became fascinated by Gu Cheng, a representative poet in contemporary China.

"By then I realized that I had fallen in love with literature and thought if I could write like Gu, that would be great," he says.

"It's like I had secretly found a byway that nobody knew about. No other student was as interested in literature as I was. It was so cool and so exciting."

This was during the second semester of grade two, and, one year later, in 2000, he would join 3.75 million students around the country in sitting the college entrance examination.

But literature had taught him to rebel against examination-oriented education and to pursue something poetic, so Peng abandoned himself to the world of literature, reading avidly and giving up study. Unsurprisingly, he failed badly in the exam.

"I wasn't going to college, but my mother asked me what I was going to do: Study for another year preparing for next year's college entrance examination or find work. It was not until that moment I realized that I had to face reality," he says.

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