Event Details

Thursday, September 8, 2016, 5:00 PM
Department of Comparative Literature
Event: When The Fiction’s True - Talk by Xu Xi


Message from Department of Comparative Literature Event Poster When The Fiction’s True Author: Xu Xi Date: 8 September, 2016 Time: 5-7pm Venue: Rm 4.36, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU Welcome by Puja Kapai (Convenor, Women’s Studies Research Centre; Associate Professor, Director, Centre for Comparative and Public Law, Faculty of Law, HKU) Introduction by Sze-wei Ang (Assistant Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, HKU) About the Talk I wrote a novel. It took me nine years across many time zones, villages, towns, cities, countries and airports. I wrote it in English while listening to Englishes spoken by many “native” and “non-native” speakers transnationally. The protagonist is a disappearing American of the East Coast wealthy WASP variety whose two talents are to mimic other people’s voices (but especially Bugs Bunny’s) and to sing jazz (baritone) in the privacy of his reclusive life. By the time the novel was ready to be born, there was Chinese in the book as well — presumed, translated, transliterated and in the original as “complicated” characters. Language calls for quotes and italics in this abstract so I suppose that is what, in part, I’ll talk about, but mostly I'll tell you about my new novel, That Man in Our Lives and the writing marathon that gave birth to it. About the book That Man In Our Lives, to be released September 15 by C&R Press in the U.S., is quickly generating positive buzz. Publishers Weekly calls it an “engrossing, whirlwind metafictional tale (that) effectively demonstrates the far-reaching effects of politics and culture on the smallest, most personal aspects of our lives” and the Asian Review of Books calls it an “ambitious, witty and generous novel.” Pulitzer author Robert Olen Butler says it is “beautifully refined in both intelligence and prose” and Vesna Goldsworthy says it both “educates and delights the reader.” Long awaited by Xu’s fans and readers worldwide, this latest work by the international novelist extends the universe of her earlier books, with New York as the perch from which she examines the shifting balance of power between the U.S. and China. This tale of lifelong friendships features Gordon (Gordie) Ashberry, a wealthy, dilettante Sinologist – a.k.a. Gord or Hui Guo to his two closest friends Harold Haight and Larry Woo – a character in three of Xu’s earlier novels. The story opens in March 2003 when Gordie deliberately disappears during a flight delay in Tokyo. The pre and post fallout around that disappearance informs this drama about the friend who was always around in your and your family’s lives until he isn’t, and how much or little we know of those we think we know well. Originally inspired by John Adam’s opera “Nixon in China,” a large cast of characters traverses the globe in search of this missing protagonist, a Gatsby-ish figure with Chinese characteristics. That Man in Our Lives is Xu’s metafictional response to the Chinese classic novel Dreams of Red Chambers by Cao Xueqin. Bio of Author XU XI is author of ten books, most recently the novels That Man In Our Lives (C&R Press, September 2016 ) and Habit of a Foreign Sky (2010), a finalist for the Man Asian Literary Prize; the story collection Access Thirteen Tales (2011). Forthcoming books include Interruptions (2016), a collaborative ekphrastic essay collection in conversation with photography by David Clarke; a memoir Elegy for HK (2017) and Insignificance: Stories of Hong Kong (2018). She has also edited four anthologies of Hong Kong writing in English. From 2002 to 2012, she was on the faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA and served a term as faculty chair, and from 2010 to 2016 was at City University of Hong Kong as Writer-in-Residence in the Department of English where she founded and directed Asia’s first low-residency MFA. Follow her on http://www.mongrelintl.com/, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram @xuxiwriter. All are welcome. Co-organized by Department of Comparative Literature; Center for the Study of Globalization and Cultures; Women's Studies Research Centre, HKU

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