Duo Duo’s long-awaited first book of prose to appear in English continues to explore issues of exile and alienation that permeate his poetry. An ambiguous first-person narrator, perhaps the same voice and perhaps not, links the six stories, each of which raises questions about the mutability of location, self, reality and experience. As John Crespi writes in the introduction, “For Duo Duo, storytelling seems reserving the right to search for, but still deny, an illusion of wholeness when one’s existence is inevitably fragmented, to admit to being simultaneously where you are and where you are not, to locate the past in the present and the far in the near, and find fullness in the assertion that we ought never be completely sure just where the here and the now really are.”
Born in Beijing in 1951, Duo Duo (pen name of Li Shizheng) began writing poetry in the 1970s. During the Cultural Revolution, angry Chinese officials branded him as one of the “Misty” poets, a derisive term referring to their obscure imagery and symbols. After witnessing the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1990, Duo Duo left the country for a reading in London, and lived in exile for the next 15 years. He now teaches at Hainan University. Duo Duo is the first Chinese author to win the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature. The biennial award has been called the “American Nobel Prize,” because 27 of the 40 winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1970 have been laureates, candidates or jurors of the Neustadt Prize. Read more about Duo Duo and his poetry collection, The Boy Who Catches Wasps.
John Crespi is the Henry R. Luce Associate Professor of Chinese at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY. His book, Voices in Revolution: Poetry and the Auditory Imagination in Modern China, was published in 2009 (University of Hawai‘i Press). His translations of Chinese fiction, prose and poetry have appeared in a numerous anthologies and literary journals.
Snow Plain, by Duo Duo
from Chinese by John Crespi
ISBN 978-0-9815521-8-7 (paper)
5½ x 7½