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Chinese literary master celebrated in Zhoushan with prose awards

By HAO NAN| China Daily| Updated: June 21, 2021 L M S

The prose of Taiwan writer San Mao occupies a special place in the hearts of readers, long after her death in 1991.

Her books have been translated into more than 10 languages and published in countries and regions including the United States, Italy, Spain and Japan.

San Mao, or Echo Chan, was a Chinese contemporary novelist, writer and translator. Her pen name was taken from a cartoon character with only three strands of hair on his head.

Better known as a wandering writer, San Mao moved from place to place throughout her life, a life pattern that began to form in her childhood.

She was born into a well-educated Christian family in 1943 in Southwest China's Chongqing. But her family was originally from the Dinghai district of Zhoushan, an island city in East China's Zhejiang province.

At the age of 6, San Mao moved to Taiwan province with her family.

In 1989, she went to Dinghai to visit her relatives for the first time. "I'm coming home. I can't believe this is happening. It's like a dream," she said.

To commemorate the great writer and her links with Dinghai, the district initiated the Sanmao Prose Award in 2016 with plans to build it into a cultural hallmark of Zhejiang. The biennial event has become one of the top literary awards in Zhejiang and garnered a strong international reputation.

Over the years, it has attracted participation from more than 1,800 writers across more than 10 countries and regions, including some who are famous. This year's event was held on June 7 at the district's Sanmao Park, with the theme "Echoes From a Distance".

About 600 writers from across the world took part. Prizes were won by 13 collections and 13 prose works.

According to He Xuhua, director of the publicity department of Dinghai, the third Sanmao Prose Award was more focused on promoting emerging prose writers than previous sessions by setting up dedicated awards for them.

"Culture is the root and soul of a city, as well as its core and lasting competitiveness," said Hou Fuguang, head of the Dinghai.

"Dinghai is a land with profound historical background and cultural depth. It is the hometown San Mao has always loved," he added.

The district launched a renovation project of San Mao's ancestral house in 1998, and opened it to the public in 2000.

After more than 10 years of efforts, the district formed a San Mao-related cultural cluster with the house as its core. This laid a solid foundation for hosting the first Sanmao Prose Award.

Ai Wei, chairman of the Zhejiang Writers Association, said the award is a good way to utilize the resources of local celebrities. It is also an important measure to "convey the character of San Mao's literature, carry forward the excellent humanistic spirit, establish the cultural image of Dinghai and highlight the district's cultural confidence".

"By holding the award, many writers have begun to pay more attention to Zhoushan and Dinghai by experiencing life, launching new books and exchanging ideas here.

"Thus we feel that the construction of cultural brands can not only promote prosperity of literary creation in a region, but can enhance its soft power of culture and boost its economic and social development," Ai said. In addition to the award ceremony, Dinghai has been developing a series of cultural projects. These include a literary street, themed restaurants and coffee shops to promote San Mao and boost the district's integration of tourism and culture.