Sunday, July 3

The absence of urban literature

Now if the Philippines has a surplus of buangst literature, the Chinese are suffering from the opposite: the lack of urban themes in their writing.

Chinese critics have noted that their literature is still majorly influenced by agrarian themes and their writers are more familiar with rural subjects, making them unable to portray the delicacies of urban living. The reason for all these, some say, is that Chinese cities had undergone major changes in the last two decades.

The Xinhua newspaper reported:
Critic Li Jingze asserted that both theorists and writers should rethink their limited literary thinking. Writers born after the late 1970s were grappling with complicated urban experiences, whereas critics had no idea what they were talking about or why, said Li.

[D]epictions of the lives of doctors or lawyers should be much more complex and insightful regarding contemporary life than continual depictions of farmers, and should also require more dedicated research. (Highlights mine) However, most mainstream Chinese writers and critics, coming from the countryside themselves, still focused themselves on rural subjects despite the fact that the urban experience had become a major element of China's contemporary culture.
If the Pinoy writers are fixated on buangst writing, then the Chinese seem to be overdosing on their rural lit, forever mining the glorious Mao era and forgetting that it's all about the shopping malls now. And given that their writers are just about my age but they're all writing about farmers, that's just like, whoa. (Excuse the airhead, I just woke up, no coffee yet.) What struck me most about that article is their dedication to research. I was reminded of this Time magazine article about how rural Chinese also see their cities as a place paved with gold. The Time writers followed this teenage girl, from pagluwas sa probinsya to life in the big city and back to the villages again. I swear, it's just like our own people.

So maybe we should do as the Chinese and let's take to writing rural fiction for a while, and let the Chinese do as we do. Maybe make all those who want to be writers enroll in a creative writing program. Hee.

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