Magazine article Chinese Literature Today

Carrying the Light

Magazine article Chinese Literature Today

Carrying the Light

Article excerpt

Jia Pingwa. Carrying the Light. Fiction. Beijing. Renmin wenxue chubanshe. 2013. 362 pages. 38 RMB. ISBN 7020095925

Published in 2013, Jia Pingwa's Carrying the Light (Daideng) is a novel featuring a female protagonist. Set against the transformations and development of the town Yingzhen, the novel centers on the life of a female college student named "Daideng" (literally "Carry the Light"), who comes to the Qinling Mountain area to work for the local Yingzhen government. In its focus on Daideng's everyday experiences and encounters, the story gradually exposes her lonely inner self amongst the social realities in China's countryside. Daideng has a noble and pure heart, but she also cares about the villagers and tries her best to protect their interests while observing her duties. In this old village she longs to find peace and tranquility. However, despite her longing for spiritual support, she has to face every type of impasse in her daily life and work. Her physical and spiritual encounters drive Daideng to the brink of insanity.

In this novel, Jia Pingwa uses concise and simple language with a rich Yunnan flavor to portray clashes between the villagers' appeals and the town cadres' work. These quandaries soon reveal the various problems brought about by rapid economic development in the town. Jia's story covers many social problems, including illegal construction, violent demolitions, and the silencing of the villagers' petitions. Jia Pingwa refrains from altering or smoothing over reality while showing the social problems and people's responses to them. According to Jia, none of the events in this novel are fabricated- they are all real. Jia appears to be using a Chinese style to present the existential crisis of the Chinese people at the grassroots level.

Straying from his conventional writing style, Jia Pingwa has managed to crafta novel that is fresh, witty, funny, and full of charm. The novel's layout is original: while the plot development seems disorderly, it contains subtle foreshadowing and unfolds naturally. Jia Pingwa has also successfully molded a well-developed and trustworthy protagonist. Indeed, he is very good at writing about emotional female characters in northwestern China.

In Carrying the Light, Daideng is a new socialist female village cadre who dares to walk in the "darkness" carrying the "light. …

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