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Conversations with Zhang Yueran

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© Li Jinpeng


Wednesday 6 March


Language: English and Chinese

Introduction to Chinese literature

Prof. dr. Bart Dessein (UGent) gives us a lively insight on Chinese contemporary literature from the 80s till today.

Interview with Zhang Yueran by Veerle De Vos

Zhang Yueran talks about her literary work and life as a writer in Beijing with Veerle De Vos. Her novel 茧 Cocoon has recently (2023) been translated into Dutch by Annelous Stiggelbout and published by Prometheus as De spijker and was very well received in Belgium & The Netherlands.

Zhang Yueran in Conversation with Hind Eljadid

The conversation is led by Veerle De Vos and they will talk about their work and life, as women and mothers. They will also talk about what literature means to both writers: is it a necessity? Is there a need to be socially critical? Is there common ground between the writers? Memories and past events determine the future of characters in Zhangs De spijker, but also in Hind Eljadid's Kruimeldief.


After the event we invite you for a drink and you will get the opportunity to buy the novels discussed this evening at our Literature Corner by Boekhandel Walry and to get your books signed by Zhang Yueran, Veerle De Vos or Hind Eljadid.

Who's Who

Zhang Yueran (Jinan, 1982) is one of China's most influential writers. Her work has sold hundreds of thousands of copies in China, and her books have been translated into various European and Asian languages. Her collection of short stories Ten Loves and her novel 茧 Cocoon (De spijker) have been published in Dutch.

Zhang Yueran is considered part of the so-called balinghou, the generation of writers born in the 1980s. This generation was born after the great historical dramas that have unfolded in China over the past century, and the children of the 1980s grew up in a period when the economy and thus prosperity slowly grew, and most people were not concerned anymore with politics. With the great industrialization and economic growth, the emphasis increasingly shifted to the cities and less to the countryside. This is also reflected in literature: more urban stories, less poverty and violence. 

Zhang is internationally oriented, both in inspiration and in work. She reads widely and counts writers such as Margaret Atwood and Philip Roth as influences. She seems to have a special bond with the Netherlands: one of her stories is about a sunflower who falls in love with Van Gogh, and her early novel The Bird of Promise features several Dutch characters. 

Hind Eljadid is a wordsmith and writer from Antwerp. She has won several awards for her performative wordcraft, including the VanDale spoken award in 2017, the BILL award in 2018, the VOEM emancipation prize in 2019 and the El Hizrja literature prize in 2020. She wrote her debut Kruimeldief in 2021 about her and her sister’s lives. With her critical thinking she conquers the literary world word by word. Her platform Zonderwolk offers a stage to word artists, rappers, storytellers, and comedians. She organized the Belgian Slam Poetry Championship in 2021 and will do so again in 2022.

Bart Dessein is senior full professor at Ghent University, where he is the President of the research group 'East Asian Culture in Perspective: Identity, Historical Consciousness, Modernity'. He teaches on contemporary Chinese literature, contemporary China, and China in the global context. In his research, he approaches contemporary China from a historical and cultural perspective. Bart Dessein is the former President of the European Association for Chinese Studies. He is member of the Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences, board member of the Belgian Institute for Higher Chinese Studies (Brussels), and Vice-President of the School for Comparative Philosophy (Antwerp).

Veerle De Vos is a journalist at VRT NWS. China has fascinated her since the 1990s, when she lived there for 2 years and worked as an English teacher at a university in Wuhan. About that period she wrote the book In elke rivier schijnt een maan together with a Chinese friend. In 2023 she published Alles onder de hemel. Ferdinand Verbiest en de ontdekking van China, about the first meeting between China and the West.

Zhang Yueran artist-in-residence at Passa Porta

The international house of literature Passa Porta is a unique, multilingual meeting place. It is where readers meet writers from Belgium and abroad. Zhang Yueran is artist-in-residence for 2024. You can meet the author on Wednesday 13 March at the Passa Porta Bookshop in Brussels. More info here.

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