Murong Xuecun on Creative Freedom in China
That contemporary China is in the ascendancy is a platitude. For observers unfamiliar with China, it’s hard to understand how independent artists like Ai Weiwei and writers like Murong Xuecun can thrive in a sometimes hostile environment.
Murong Xuecun is one of contemporary Chinese literature’s leading lights. His first novel - published by instalments on the web under the title Chengdu Please Forget Me Tonight - was a cult sensation among young middle class Chinese readers. The novel’s success prompted authorities to convene a conference just to critique it, and he’s since become a forthright critic of the government’s repressive cultural policy. Recently he’s assumed the role of investigative journalist.
In this conversation with Jenny Niven, Xuecun discusses his sometimes controversial characters and explores the challenges that face an ‘independent’ writer in modern China.