Yan Lianke

Novelist, author

Yan Lianke is an award-winning writer and author of an extensive body of novels, novellas, short stories, essays and criticisms, including The Four Books, Enjoyment, and The Explosion Chronicles. On leaving school, he joined the People’s Liberation Army, gaining a degree in politics and education from Henan University in 1985, and a degree in literature from the PLA Academy of Art in 1991. He is a member of the Chinese Writers’ Association and the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Lu Xun Literary Prize and Lao She Award Literature Prize. He was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, and became the first Chinese writer to be awarded the Franz Kafka Literature Prize in 2014. As his books are highly satirical, some of his most renowned works, including Serve the People!, are banned in China. Yan is currently a IAS Sin Wai Kin Professor of Chinese Culture at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Professor at Renmin University of China's School of Liberal Arts. 

A man wearing a face mask walks along a road in Beijing on 11 March 2020. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

Powerless, helpless and downtrodden: The state of Chinese literature in this pandemic

In today’s age where it seems that all great literature has been written, Yan Lianke has a modest wish for aspiring writers in China. He hopes that they will have the space to create works, unfettered by thoughts of going against the grain. He believes that creating a culture that allows for dissenting voices in literature is far more important and desperately needed than creating a single or a few accidental great literary works.
This photo taken on 28 February 2020 shows a statue with a face mask on in Wuhan. (STR/AFP)

Chinese novelist Yan Lianke: When the epidemic ends, let our memories live

In his first creative writing class of the semester, acclaimed Chinese author Yan Lianke addresses the Covid-19 milieu of the times. He urges his students to remember what they have seen and heard as memory separates man from beast; memory begets truth. He says if one cannot speak loudly or even whisper, at least remember.