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Reading the future

2015-01-14 11:27 China Daily Web Editor: Si Huan
A reader looks at a new book on Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 2015 Beijing Book Fair. [Photo by Wang Jing/China Daily]

A reader looks at a new book on Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 2015 Beijing Book Fair. [Photo by Wang Jing/China Daily]

2015 Beijing book fair foretells literary and publishing trends. 

A new chapter in China's literary legacy can be read from the thrust of the 2015 Beijing Book Fair.

New works, new trends and new media have emerged at one of China's main literary events, which is viewed as a crystal ball divining the publishing industry's near future.

The three-day event closed on Saturday.

While tradition has proven popular as a theme among authors, innovation is publishers' foremost concern.

A highlight release was award-winning novelist Chi Zijian's Qun Shan Zhi Dian (The Peak of the Mountains). Her first book since 2010 continues her focus on northern China-the 50-year-old hails from the country's northernmost county, Heilongjiang province's Mohe-and depicts the struggles of ordinary yet unique individuals in a fictional village.

China Writers' Association Vice-President Li Jingze says: "I feel the inarticulate characters' loneliness. They all have something in their hearts but don't know how, or to whom, to express it. Fortunately, we still have writers like Chi Zijian, who can give them voices."

Chi won the country's top literary award, the Mao Dun Literary Prize, in 2008 for her novel The Last Quarter of the Moon. The book depicts the nomadic Evenki ethnic group's struggle along the country's northern border to rebuff incursions from the outside world over the past century.

American Bruce Humes translated the book into English in 2013.

The preservation of traditional culture also informs the works of 73-year-old Feng Jicai, who presented at the fair six simultaneously published new books.

In addition to a handbook based on his field studies of fading village traditions and his personal folk sculpture collection, the author, artist and activist presented at the fair his travelogue of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and an anthology of essays on culture and the arts.

"I've done many things, including teaching Tianjin University postgraduate students, because I want to pass along a sense of responsibility (to protect tradition) to the younger generation," Feng tells the media.

"I hope the youth can replace me, so I can return to my original trade-writing."

But while tradition has emerged as a major literary theme, innovation has become the publishing industry's focus.

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