Four Chinese writers are visiting Iowa City in the this week as part of the UI’s International Writing Program’s (IWP) Life of Discovery exchange program. The visit is timely in light of the recent announcement that Mo Yan, Chinese novelist and 2004 graduate of the IWP, would be the recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature. The Life of Discovery program is a collaboration between the IWP and the China Writer’s Association (CWA), and it will bring together American and Chinese fiction writers, essayists, poets and playwrights.
The Life of Discovery campaign aims to foster a creative and friendly dialogue between two cultures with quite distinct approaches to the form of writing. In addition to Friday’s reception at Shambaugh House (430 N. Clinton Street),which included readings from fiction writer Zhang Yuntao and poet Mao Juzhen, another reading will be held tonight from 4-5:00 p.m. at Prairie Lights Bookstore. Remaining Chinese authors, novelist and short-story writer Sun Wei and fiction writer Liu Yewei, will read along with local Iowa City poet Dora Malech. Finally, on Friday, Nov. 2 from 5-7:00 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum, all of the Chinese writers will participate in an event titled “World Canvas: Writing the Stories of the World.” A reception will follow.
Following the theme of “Reading the City”, the writers were asked to consider how they ‘read’ space physically, creatively, intellectually and emotionally. After four American writers from the Life of Discovery exchange visited the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Zhouzhuang this summer, four Chinese writers were asked to visit Chicago and Iowa City. Although these cities differ radically in terms of size and shape, by visiting and interacting with one another in a creative manner, the Life of Discovery exchange program expects the writers involved to work towards “fostering creative collaboration and artistic and academic exchange.”
During their stay in Iowa City, the Chinese writers will read publicly from their work, interact with University of Iowa students, take part in workshops with American writers, meet with writers-in-residence at the IWP, and view a private screening of the “City of Literature” documentary.
The current Life of Discovery visit is part of a series of cultural interactions conceived in 2009 by the IWP and CWA and sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State.
Brief Bios. of the American and Chinese authors participating in the Life of Discovery exchange can be found here.