“All characteristics of a certain period of time are essentially the characteristics of the people of that time. So are its problems. I believe ‘times’ are created by people, and only people and their lives are worthy of writing,” renowned Chinese novelist Mr Su Tong told 400 Lingnan students, staff, guests and members of the public at his public lecture “Literature, in Small Times, in Great Times” on 25 March.
A native of Suzhou who grew up during the Cultural Revolution, Mr Su said he was weary of the term “great times”. “What are great times? What do great times and their greatness mean for the people and their lives?” For a creative writer, he remarked, the people, their characteristics and problems are what really matters. He cited the example of materialism, which has been harshly criticised as a social evil. But he thinks it is pointless to attack materialism, which is created by the people anyway. “All the features and problems characterise the period of time in which they exist, and the people who create the circumstances. And for me, all these are great. They are nothing small,” Mr Su concluded.
Mr Su Tong has been invited by Lingnan University as writer-in-residence this year to teach a course on “Discovering Short Stories”, leading the students to create their own work. On 10 April, Mr Su will present another public lecture on “From Raise the Red Lantern to The Oriole” at the Hong Kong Central Library. All are welcome. The writer-in-residence programme this year is sponsored by Drs Richard Charles & Esther Yewpick Lee Charitable Foundation.