While most of the media stress government control on journalists and authors, Zhang Lijia, author of Lotus: A Novel on prostitution in China, sees huge advantages too, she tells the blog Women and Gender in China (WAGIC). “Internationally Chinese women writers are almost invisible. This is another reason that I want to keep writing.”
S: What would you say are the opportunities and challenges of being a (female) writer in China today?
China is the seventh heaven for writers and journalists. Like any society that is going through such rapid social transformation, there’s always tension and drama – these are exactly what writers and journalists seek after.
It is difficult to be a writer anywhere in the world. In China, most writers have to deal with the extra challenge of facing censorship. Right now, the publishing and writing fields are still male-dominated. Internationally Chinese women writers are almost invisible. This is another reason that I want to keep writing.
S: One of the areas that you talk about in your public speaking is the changing role of women in Chinese society. What would you say are the main challenges facing women today?
LJ: The main challenges facing women today is the deeply rooted male chauvinism and the growing gender inequality. Market economy has placed women in an unfavourable position. But I am optimistic because women have taken the matter into their own hands, as reflected in the growing activism since 2012. It would have been much better if such activism is tolerated by the authorities.
S: What do you have planned next?
LJ: I am writing a literary non-fiction on China’s left behind children. Coming from a journalist background, I found fiction writing extremely challenging. In this non-fiction book, I plan to apply some fictional techniques I’ve learnt, such as setting the scene, good dialogue, sense of suspense and character development, which, hopefully, will make the book more engaging and literary.
Are you looking for more experts on cultural change at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.