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A novel without a word telling a love story?
By Ng Ting Ting (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2005-07-14 10:34

A writer from Shanxi Province is waiting for someone to decode his novel, a novel without a single word but a set of 14 punctuations, with a reward of 140,000 yuan (US$16,900).

The author of the special touching love story "" Hu Wenliang [baidu]
He claimed those 14 marks represent a touching love story, reported by the Beijing Daily Messenger on Wednesday.

It might be the shortest novel ever, and it might be the only novel without a word. But Hu Wenliang, the author the novel entitled , claimed that he spent one year to write a novel with five sections as follows:

Hu, a member of the Shanxi writers' association, has written eight books including novels, proses and reports totaling to about 3 million words in the past. He is currently working in the Public Relation Department of the Coal Geological Bureau in Shanxi as a department head.

Although the novel consists of only 14 Chinese punctuations, he insisted that it tells a touching love story, with ups and downs and a complete outline, which he spent a whole year on the novel.

Hu is offering to reward those who can understand the hidden story with 140,000 yuan. He said 20 people have already come with their interpretations but none of them satisfied Hu. Hu thought they are all too far away from the story his novel is telling.

"I have my own answer, which is around 100 Chinese characters. The interpretation should cover the description of characters and the plot of the story, I will reward someone who can guess 80 percent the hidden story correct" he said.

But Chinese language experts said that a story could not be constructed by punctuations alone.

"Using 14 punctuations to make a story is pretty like a farce," said Chen Xiaoming, professor of the Department of Chinese Language from the prestigious Peking University.

"The use of punctuations has very clear rules, for instance, a full stop is used at the end of a statement or the end of imperative sentences; question mark is placed a the end of request. Punctuations are subordinates of words, which cannot be used alone as a story," he explained.

Chen thought that authors could use other ways to emphasize the importance of punctuations and doubted Hu''s novel as hype.

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