Skip to main content

August 2018: Zong Pu 宗璞

Zong Pu is the pen name of Feng Zhongpu (born 26 July 1928). Born in Beijing, she's the daughter of the prominent philosopher Feng Youlan, and graduated from Tsinghua University in 1951. Her work is deeply rooted in traditional Chinese culture but also inspired by immersion in foreign cultures. Her short and medium-length novels include Red Beans (红豆); Lulu (鲁鲁); The Everlasting Rock (三生石); and The Bright Passage of the Four Seasons (四季流光). Other pieces of prose and poetry include ‘West Lake Essay’ (西湖漫笔); ‘The Cascading Snowfield’ (奔落的雪原) – a travelogue about a visit to Niagara Falls; ‘Flower Festival Commemoration’ (花朝节的纪念); and ‘Broken Memories of Three Pines Hall’ (三松堂的断忆). She has also written children’s books and fairytales, such as Searching for the Moon (寻月记); Flower Talk (花的话); and The Story of the Fringed-Fin Fish (总鳍鱼的故事).

The first three novels in the series ‘Wild Gourd Overture’ - Departure for the South, Hiding in  the East and Voyage to the West - were published by the People’s Literature Publishing House in September 1988, April 2001 and May 2009 respectively. The English translations will be published by Alain Charles Asia Publishing.

In 2005, she won a coveted Mao Dun Literature Prize for her novel Hiding in the East, one of many awards and accolades she has garnered in her long and distinguished writing career.

Bio from Alain Charles Asia Publishing

We're delighted that Zong Pu is our featured author this August. She's had a fascinating life, and is still writing and publishing at the age of 90! We're very happy that it's soon going to be possible to read more of her work in English. We've chosen to feature a short extract from her novel Departure for the South, translated by Wen Lingxia and due to be published shortly by Alain Charles Asia Publishing. The extract is a letter, from early on in the book, and you can read it in Chinese and in English translation.

Here's the blurb for the novel:

 It is the Summer of 1937, and a spark of war has been lit in China. The flames are spreading like wildfire across the nation, threatening to engulf everything in its path… beginning with Beijing.

The city teeters on the edge, not knowing which way the balance will swing, as the shadow of conflict looms ominously over it. Everyday life carries on, as it must, but the rumours run rife. No one really knows what is going on… or what will happen next.

Outside the city walls, the Lü family are no different, their lives resting in the hands of others. All they can do is wait… and hope that the balance shifts towards peace rather than all-out war. 

Lü Bichu, the youngest of three and mother to three children of her own, knows the ferocity of a mother’s fury. There is nothing she won’t do to protect everything she holds dear, everything the war threatens to take from her.

To do that, Lü and her family must tread a fragile tightrope, navigating the treacherous path between a corrupt government, the merciless Japanese invaders, and even the desperation of their fellow citizens.

One slip could spell tragedy for them all.