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Renowned Chinese author is in a class of his own

By YANG YANG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-22 09:12
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Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk is one of the most popular foreign writers in China, with many of his works translated into Chinese. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Renowned author Yu Hua delivered an open writing class titled "Starting from Pamuk's Nights of Plague" at Beijing Normal University on the evening of Dec 14.

As one of the most representative contemporary writers in China, Yu has published novels including To Live that has been translated into many different languages such as French, English and Korean. A movie adaptation of the novel by Zhang Yimou has become a Chinese classic.

Recently, Paris Review ran an interview with Yu, the first Chinese writer to be featured among the pages of this renowned literary magazine.

As a teacher at Beijing Normal University's International Center for Writing, Yu's literature classes have always intrigued readers. Through livestreaming, his class has reached a broader audience of literature lovers beyond the campus.

At the beginning of the class, Yu said discussing Nights of Plague was a "difficult task", since he needs to get everyone interested in reading the book, but do so while avoiding spoilers.

"Pamuk wrote with great patience, and we need patience to read his book. Once you finish the novel, you'll realize it's much more fascinating than I can convey," he said.

Nights of Plague, written by Turkish author and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk in 2016, is set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Ottoman Empire in 1901. The story unfolds on the imaginary island of Mingheria in the Levant, located in the eastern Mediterranean between Crete and Cyprus, which was plagued not only by imperial threats but also by a deadly epidemic.

The Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II sends his most accomplished quarantine expert to the island to control the outbreak, who is subsequently murdered. The sultan sends a second doctor to the island to combat the plague and uncover the killer of his predecessor.

Yu finished reading the 600-page novel in several days in the first half of the year. He said, although the novel tells a story about the early 20th century, it is a tale about the present day.

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